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Saturday, 12 October, 2002, 22:15 GMT 23:15 UK
Eriksson's relief at England revival
David Beckham leads the celebrations of Michael Owen's winner
England celebrate their late escape

Sven-Goran Eriksson admitted he was a relieved man after late goals by David Beckham and Michael Owen rescued England against Slovakia.

Eriksson's side were in danger of suffering a shock defeat when Middlesbrough's Szilard Nemeth gave Slovakia a deserved first-half lead.

But England rallied after the break and captain Beckham equalised with a 65th-minute free-kick.

And with seven minutes to play, Owen pounced to snatch a headed winner.


Tackles were flying in, it was on the edge at times
David Beckham

Eriksson said afterwards he was impressed with the way his team battled back.

But he also admitted to some anxious moments along the way.

"It was a relief, yes of course, as it was a very difficult game," Eriksson said.

"We did not play as well as we wanted to so to come back and win was very important and I am happy.

"We didn't play well for the first 30 minutes and were not aggressive enough.

"We came into the game after 30 minutes and started to play better and better."

And he added: "To have won against a good team on such a pitch shows how good the team spirit is.

"When the pitch is like it was it is good to be physically strong.

"We came out in the second half with a good spirit and showed how much we wanted to win the game.

Michael Owen is muscled off the ball by Marian Zeman
England had to fight for their victory
"We have got the three points we wanted and we have not picked up any serious injuries for next Wednesday's game against Macedonia."

Beckham struck with a floated free-kick that crept in at the far post after Owen had been a hair's breadth from connecting with his head.

"Michael said to me straight away he hadn't got a touch," the Manchester United star said.

Beckham was lucky to escape a yellow card for a two-footed tackle on Martin Petras.

And he admitted it had been a tough match in which none of the players had held back.

"Tackles were flying in, it was on the edge at times and it was always going to be like that in the game," he said.


Live BBC coverage of England's opening Euro 2004 qualifier against Slovakia saw a peak of 10m people tuning in.

The average figure was 8.5m - a 41.6% viewing share - and made Match of the Day the most-watched programme of the day.

It also gave the BBC their highest Saturday peak-time share since the screening of England's 5-1 win over Germany last year.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Alan Green
"A shambolic first-half display from England"
England captain David Beckham
"We knew we had to take our chances"
England striker Michael Owen
"The first goal was David's"
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
"The players did well in the second half"
Slovakia v England news

Slovakia 1-2 England

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