June 10, 2006

England lead after Paraguay own goal

By Martyn Herman

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - England dominated the first half of
their Group B opener against Paraguay on Saturday, reaching the
interval 1-0 in front thanks to an early own goal by Carlos

It took just over three minutes for the massed ranks of
England fans to raise the roof in the Waldstadion when the
Paraguay skipper rose to head clear David Beckham's free kick
but only managed to deflect it past goalkeeper Justo Villar.

Riddled with early nerves, Paraguay's horrendous start got
even worse four minutes later when Villar limped off and had to
be replaced by reserve keeper Aldo Bobadilla. It was the
fastest substitution of a goalkeeper in World Cup history.

Paraguay coach Anibal Ruiz gambled by choosing to start
striker Roque Santa Cruz but the Bayern Munich player, who
missed most of last season with a knee injury, was a peripheral
figure as England's central midfield duo of Steven Gerrard and
Frank Lampard seized control of the midfield.

Gerrard, who had been struggling with a hip injury in the
build-up to the game, was booked for a heavy tackle on Cristian
Riveros, while Paraguay's Nelson Valdez also went into the book
for a lunge on Beckham.

Riveros and Valdez, on the stroke of halftime, had
Paraguay's only meaningful efforts of the first half while at
the other end Michael Owen and Peter Crouch kept Paraguay's
defense occupied.