Beckham leads the great escape

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The Independent Online
ENGLAND PUT the doubts and anxiety of the past few days behind them last night to record a 2-0 victory over Colombia in Lens, which takes them through to the second round of the World Cup.

After their defeat by Romania on Monday, England went into the game needing at least a draw to qualify for the next stage of the competition. They responded with a polished performance against the Colombians to finish second in their group, and will play Argentina on Tuesday.

Once again the match seemed to hold Britain in a grip, emptying roads long before the kick-off and filing bars and public houses. Even Tony Blair, for the second time in a week, allowed the cameras in to watch him watching them, this time at Trimsdown Labour Club in his constituency, Sedgefield, in County Durham.

The Prince of Wales and Prince Harry, wearing an England scarf with his suit, took the Eurostar to be among the estimated 25,000 England fans watching the game at the stadium.

They saw England go 2-0 up within half an hour thanks to goals from two players who have been at the heart of the debate over Glenn Hoddle's team selections in France.

Last night it was Darren Anderton's spectacular goal that put England on their way to victory. He controlled a clearance before shooting into the roof of the net.

David Beckham's omission from the starting line-up in England's previous match was widely criticised, but the Manchester United player began last night's game and responded with his first goal in 17 internationals, a perfectly struck curling free-kick from nearly 30 yards.

As the fans sang the theme to The Great Escape, which has been adopted as their anthem for the tournament, England created many other chances, and the style of their performance, as much as the result, will give encouragement for the challenges ahead.

The mood inside the stadium was good-natured, helped no doubt by a sense of relief that England were finally displaying some of their potential. Hoddle afterwards praised the "great performance" from his team and the "outstanding'' support from the fans. "Tactically we did it right," he said. "We could have won by four or five if we had taken our chances. I still think there's more to come from us. In some ways I'm looking forward to playing Argentina more [than Croatia, who play the group winners Romania in the second round] because it will be a better game for us."

After the game, Lens and nearby Lille were relatively quiet and the bars remained closed as thousands of fans made their way back to their hotels or railway stations. In London, celebrating fans converged on Trafalgar Square.

Earlier, there had been renewed clashes between England supporters and hundreds of French police drafted into the area because of fears of violence. In Lens before the match, there were about 10 arrests after hundreds of supporters were involved in disturbances close to the stadium, mostly involving bottle-throwing.

In Lille, about 25 miles away, there were arrests around the main railway station in the afternoon when about 60 fans were involved in a number of glass-throwing incidents. At one point about 150 police, armed with tear gas and guns, sealed off the station. Most of those arrested were later released.

The British embassy said last night that nine fans remained in custody in Lens and might face charges, some for violence, some for theft. One remained in custody in Lille and one in Calais.

Yesterday afternoon's trouble appeared to involve only a small number of the 35,000 England supporters estimated to have arrived at Lens and Lille, many of whom did not have tickets for the game.

The trouble followed skirmishes and violence late on Thursday night and in the early hours of yesterday.

In the Belgian port of Ostend, 57 England supporters were arrested after running riot through the town. Another 28 were arrested in the capital, Brussels. At the same time, there were about 40 arrests in Lille and Lens, mostly for drunken behaviour.

Two "category C" hooligans arrested in Lille were expelled on Thursday night. One England fan arrested in Lens on Thursday night was jailed for two months yesterday. Paul Cook, 29, of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, was also banned for one year from French football stadiums.

In Dover last night, two England fans were charged with theft from a P&O Stena Line ferry travelling to Calais.

Paul Dodd, 27, from Carlisle, was bailed to appear before Dover magistrates on Monday. Nicholas Bedford, 18, from Barnsley was also bailed and will appear in court on 29 July.

Fans sent home, page 2

Match reports, pages 30-32