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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas