Beckham hails England spirit

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The Independent Online

The Argentina team made a controversial entrance at the Stade de Geneve, dancing in the aisle of their team coach and singing a song that, roughly translated, accused their opponents of being "fags and whores".

When the same team left later that evening to the sound of their own footsteps, David Beckham pointed out that England would rather an Argentina team arrive in high spirits than leave in good heart.

"We would definitely take that every time we come up against them," said the 30-year-old whose team, on the occasion of his 50th match as captain, won 3-2 in injury-time. "It was the perfect game to start off with the friendlies leading up to the World Cup and we have to keep it up now," he said. "The togetherness and atmosphere was a lot more relaxed going into this game. That was because we have qualified. It's hard to create a togetherness in a team and we have got that."

Frank Lampard also revealed yesterday the Argentinians refused to swap shirts after the game.

The result is not likely to move England in the seedings of the World Cup - calculated on average Fifa rankings - and they must now wait until 6 December for confirmation that they are among the eight top-rated nations at the competition.

Eriksson will have to wait until 1 March to gather his team together again when a friendly will be arranged dependent upon the World Cup draw.

Argentina and Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo admitted that "everyone knew it wasn't like a normal friendly" and complained his side should have been awarded a penalty when Steven Gerrard clashed with Julio Cruz before Owen's winner. After Owen's late goals, Argentina coach Jose Pekerman said "We didn't lose a football match - we just lost the last three minutes."

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