June 03, 2012
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Welbeck strikes as England down Belgium

England wrapped up their pre-tournament preparations for Euro 2012 with a 1-0 win over Belgium at Wembley on Saturday courtesy of Danny Welbeck's maiden international goal.

Manchester United youngster Welbeck struck on 36 minutes to make it two wins out of two for new England manager Roy Hodgson following last weekend's 1-0 victory over Norway in Oslo.

However, the aftermath of England's win was dominated by fresh injury worries, with defensive linchpins Gary Cahill and John Terry both picking up knocks that gave Hodgson cause for concern.

Cahill needed an X-ray for a possible fractured cheekbone, which, if confirmed, would rule him out of the tournament, while Terry departed in the second half after complaining of a tight hamstring.

"We've got another few injury concerns. Gary Cahill is slightly more of a concern because it's a jaw injury," Hodgson said.

"We hope that the scan doesn't show any fracture and that he can still play in the tournament. John Terry felt his hamstring. It wasn't major but we still need to scan it to be 100 percent sure."

If either player was ruled out it would be another hammer blow to England's preparations, after midfielders Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard both withdrew from the squad this week through injury.

Belgium coach Marc Wilmots, meanwhile, said his side, who dominated possession for long periods, had not deserved to lose.

"I saw a Belgium team that controlled the game. Unfortunately we gave away a goal but I don't think we deserved to lose -- a draw would have been a fair result. We controlled the match," Wilmots said.

Welbeck's finish was a rare moment of class from England, who struggled to create genuine goalscoring chances in their last game before their daunting Euro 2012 opener against France in Donetsk on June 11.

Arsenal teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made the most of his first senior start, but blazed over after eight minutes following James Milner's cutback.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was off-target again moments later after Ashley Cole released Welbeck down the left, shooting over once more.

The festive mood amongst both sets of fans was not matched by players in the middle, meanwhile, and the opening exhanges were notable for a string of feisty collisions that led to bookings for both teams.

Dries Mertens was the first to be cautioned on 17 minutes for a sly shove on Cahill that sent the Chelsea defender crashing into goalkeeper Joe Hart, forcing the Chelsea defender to withdraw.

Scott Parker then earned a yellow card after a late challenge on Jan Vertonghen, the Ajax centre-back who has been linked with a move to Tottenham Hotspur this summer.

Belgium looked far more comfortable in possession but a forward line with no natural predator lacked the cutting edge to unlock a solid English back four.

England, by contrast, looked happy to wait for openings, and their opening goal came with a rapier-like break from midfield.

Welbeck and Steven Gerrard won the ball in midfield and fed Ashley Young, who in turn threaded a superb pass to Welbeck, who lifted the deftest of finishes above the advancing Simon Mignolet.

Gerrard had two shots blocked in quick succession shortly before half-time after desperate defending from Timmy Simons and Guillaume Gillet but the score remained 1-0 at the interval.

AFP

Wiggle

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