Barry's header beats Sweden

England 1 Sweden 0

England completed an unbeaten 2011 in satisfactory style by ending their 43-year wait for a victory over Sweden.

A deflected first-half Gareth Barry header proved enough to secure the win, in addition to becoming England's landmark 2,000th goal.

It was the first time the Three Lions have gone through an entire year without losing since 1996, or 1994 if you include that heart-breaking penalty shoot-out defeat to Germany at Euro 96.

However, Fabio Capello will be wary about reading too much into the triumph given how much club combat his players must slog their way through before arriving in Poland and Ukraine.

The pity was only 48,876 - the first sub-50,000 crowd at Wembley since 1998 - were there to see starring performances from Stewart Downing, Phil Jones, and official man-of-the-match Kyle Walker.

Of all the players who could have been credited with England's winner, Celtic defender Daniel Majstorovic was an unlikely candidate.

Yet, as 'own goals' would be fourth on the all-time list, maybe it was actually quite fitting the Sweden defender turned Stewart Downing's curling cross into his own net after leaping with Gareth Barry - denying the Manchester City midfielder his third international goal on his 50th appearance.

It took the 'og' tally to 43 and provided adequate reward for an opening period which flickered brightly at times without being able to maintain the glare.

Phil Jones came closest.

There are plenty who argue the Manchester United youngster should be starting in his preferred central defensive position.

Others, Capello presumably among them, argue he is of more use to England in a midfield holding role at present, especially against opposition where two are required, such as Saturday's visitors Spain.

Sweden are not in that class, which meant Jones had some latitude to get forward, which he did five minutes before the break.

Collecting Bobby Zamora's lay-off, the 19-year-old embarked on a searing run, straight through the heart of Sweden's defence.

It was the kind of surge a watching Roy Keane used to make in his pomp. And why Jones has been compared to Duncan Edwards. All it lacked was the finish, which he flicked an inch wide of the post.

On England's next attack, they carved out an even better chance. The architect this time was Downing, one of Capello's fringe men to impress.

The Liverpool player picked out Everton's Jack Rodwell with a superb cross into the Sweden box. Rodwell climbed highest, but did not require the angle he put onto the ball, so instead of it heading straight into the goal, it thudded against a post and bounced to safety.

Prompting it all at the back was Terry.

On his first England appearance since racism allegations, which he strenuously denied, were levelled against him, the Chelsea skipper's name was read out to a mixed reception prior to kick-off.

He was not entirely foot perfect either early on, although by the break Terry had recovered his composure, helping to ensure Zlatan Ibrahimovic departed at half-time having made little impact and keeping English fans in the dark about why he is rated so highly by Capello, and so many others.

Not that it was of much significance to Daniel Sturridge, who became the third new cap of this double-header, although - initially at least - it seemed he was trying a bit too hard to reproduce his club form.

Downing was significantly more effective, producing quite possibly his best performance for England overall.

He set up Zamora, whose goalbound shot was turned away by Jonas Olsson, and although his drive into the area was not quite as eye-catching as Jones' had been earlier, it brought another decent save from Isaksson.

Introduced for Joe Hart at half-time for his first Wembley appearance since that calamitous night against Croatia that ended Steve McClaren's brief tenure, Scott Carson narrowly avoided conceding another humiliating goal when he scrambled back to claw away Sebastian Larsson's 50-yard cross-shot from underneath the crossbar.

England had one more scare to overcome as they nearly paid the price for switching off in the drab final stages as Christian Wilhelmsson volleyed over from eight yards despite being completely unmarked.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Floyd Mayweather will relinquish his five world titles after beating Manny Pacquiao
boxing
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living