Football: Long-distance travellers' sense of adventure embarrasses hosts

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A MISTAKE made frequently by people watching England in friendly matches at Wembley is to assume the visitors will always put in a maximum effort. Bearing in mind that England are sure to play aggressively and at a fast tempo the general idea is to enjoy the experience while avoiding embarrassment and injury.

Having come from Australia, not arriving in London until Monday, Chile's policy was imagined to be one of containment rather than adventure.

This proved to be the case, but a surprise for England was the resolution shown by Chile's defenders particularly when coming under aerial bombardment.

Since Glenn Hoddle selected his team on an experimental basis, seeking to learn more about World Cup candidates, not too much should be read into last night's defeat. Nevertheless there were things that will require his close attention.

For example, one of the three defenders in England's system is supposed to provide cover for the others. However, when Marcelo Salas put Chile ahead with a quite brilliant goal in the 45th minute the last man was a midfielder, David Batty.

Also, England's defenders will need further education in the art of holding up attackers instead of going for them recklessly.

The longer the match lasted the clearer it became that England are still prone to adopting a basic method, that of launching high balls into the area in the hope that someone will get on to the end of them.

It is obvious too, that Hoddle should encourage Paul Gascoigne, who remained on the bench, along the lines of health and efficiency because England have no other midfielder with his imagination and initiative.

Too much of England's work was predictable, as though the years have not taught them anything. Experimental the team might have been, but the absence of a controlling presence in midfield was soon apparent.

In contrast to Chile's precise movements and support for the man in possession England's attacks were hopeful rather than well thought out.

Well as Michael Owen played on his England debut to select him as man of the match was an insult to some outstanding performances in the opposing line-up.

Salas, who will sign for Lazio today with a personal contract said to be worth pounds 10m over five years, was a class above any attacker on view. Thoughts that he might be reluctant to commit himself fully when so close to such a bundle of money quickly evaporated.

Chile's centre-back, the tall, balding Javier Margas was also outstanding, getting his head to the majority of England's centres.

The introduction of Alan Shearer midway through the second half brought a great cheer from England's supporters but no improvement in the team's overall performance.

By then the visitors were threatening to increase their lead with counter- attacks which Salas and Rodrigo Barrera were always prominent, giving Tony Adams and Sol Campbell all the trouble they could cope with.

When Salas converted a penalty he won for himself after teasing Campbell it was all over for England.