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Saturday, 7 September, 2002, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Portugal hold England
Alan Smith (right) heads home for England
Alan Smith (right) heads home for England
England 1-1 Portugal

Leeds United's Alan Smith illuminated an experimental friendly encounter as England were held to a draw by Portugal at Villa Park.

Smith was handed his first England start by coach Sven-Goran Eriksson - and responded in style with a vibrant display.


Alan Smith played very well - and there were far more positive things than negative
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
He struck with a spectacular header to give England a first-half lead, but Portugal improved after the break and deservedly equalised through Costinha.

Eriksson will have been pleased with England's first 45 minutes, but once again his side delivered a second-half performance lacking in threat.

England failed to score a goal in the second period during the World Cup, and rarely looked like hitting the target a second time as the game progressed.

And Eriksson will once again be left open to charges of reducing friendly fixtures to the status of meaningless training exercises with a procession of substitutes after half time.

Leeds United's Lee Bowyer was given his first cap after a lengthy England exile - and he made a lively start to his international career.

But he was over-shadowed by his Elland Road team-mate Smith, who posed a constant threat to the Portugal defence.

Smith is congratulated by Heskey
Smith is congratulated by Heskey

England were occasionally caught out by the slick passing of the Portuguese, with Real Madrid superstar Luis Figo prominent.

But Eriksson will have been satisfied with England's first half-work - capped by a brilliant goal from Smith after 39 minutes.

It was an England goal fashioned in Leeds, with Bowyer's inviting cross providing the perfect opportunity for Smith to score with a spectacular diving header.

England's momentum was inevitably disturbed by Eriksson's now traditional rash of half-time substitutions, with Blackburn debutant David Dunn one of four changes.

Bowyer battles against Portugal
Bowyer battles against Portugal

And as England regrouped, Portugal almost took advantage when Nuno Gomes hit the woodwork twice in the space of seconds in the 47th minute.

He directed a header on to the top of the crossbar with goalkeeper David James helpless, then hit the outside of the post.

Portugal, who made nine half-time changes of their own, settled quicker and were applying pressure to England.

Eriksson decided to re-shuffle England's pack again on the hour, with Bowyer one of three departures after a satisfactory international introduction.

And it was a link between two of the replacements, Dunn and Joe Cole, that almost brought a second goal after 63 minutes, only for Emile Heskey to shoot wide off balance.

England had looked unusually vulnerable from set pieces, and it was no surprise when Portugal equalised from a corner with 12 minutes remaining.

Defender Costinha was the scorer, powering a header past Owen Hargreaves on the line.


England: James, Mills, Ferdinand, Southgate, Ashley Cole, Bowyer, Gerrard, Butt, Heskey, Smith, Owen. Substitutes: Bridge, Robinson, Woodgate, Dunn, Murphy, Sinclair, Hargreaves, Joe Cole.

Portugal: Baia, Beto, Meira, Couto, Sergio Conceicao, Teixeira, Rui Costa, Jorge, Figo, Pauleta, Sabrosa. Substitutes: Pereira, Ferreira, Valente, Costinha, Vidigal, Silva, Pinto, Capucho, Viana, Nuno Gomes, Boa Morte.

Referee: T Obrebo (Norway)

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Alan Green
"For 45 minutes this match had meaning"
England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson
"I think we played good football"
Portugal's Luis Figo
"We had more chances in the second-half"
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See also:

06 Sep 02 | Europe
07 Sep 02 | Internationals
07 Sep 02 | Scotland
02 Sep 02 | Sports Talk
07 Sep 02 | Football
07 Sep 02 | England
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