Beckham's deft touch shows no sign of waning

Contrary to last night's general impressions, the Andorran nation and David Beckham do share something in common in football. The nation and the player were unleashed on international football in the same year, 1996, days when the nation awaited a Labour government with baited breath and the Football Association had the same kind of belief in Glenn Hoddle's powers of management.

There is no doubt which has better stood the test of time. The Principality, with three wins to its credit down the course of those 13 years, is worse than ever, if still mildly better than San Marino but Beckham still keeps going on and on, defying those who wrote him out of England and World Cup history.

The 2010 tournament seemed a distant dream on the day, three years back, when Beckham stood in a marquee in the Black Forest on the brink of tears and read his captain's resignation speech from two typewritten sheets. Steve McClaren thought he could live without him and the nation thought Fabio Capello probably could but there he was again last night.

His name produced the biggest shout last night, when he started for the 100th time in an England shirt and for the first time in a World Cup game since the bitter defeat in the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Portugal in Gelsenkirchen which saw him limp from the turf and call time on his captaincy.

Beckham, strolling around in the central midfield role Gareth Barry vacated with his second booking of the group stage, did here what he always tends to do when posted in such a position – thump ball after ball out to the wings like he does crosses when a winger. It won't work from that position when the competition is the remotest bit sterner and the space afforded to Beckham tighter than Andorra made it. But that is for another day. The delivery from Beckham at times was still quite exquisite to behold. Aged 34 he might be, and yard for yard across the turf just about a match for Andorra's fastest, but when it comes to the release of a ball at his feet there is surely still no one finer in the nation.

There was an immediate reminder of the threat he poses, with the lofted ball from the right which Peter Crouch conspired to head over the bar, 10 minutes into the match. But Beckham's vintage was saved for the second half and what effortlessness it proved to be.

The dinked chip which Crouch chested down and fired over; the deft, lofted ball, left to right across the box, which Joleon Lescott could not connect with a minute later.

Then the free-kick which Jesus Alvarez fumbled, handing Jermain Defoe the rebound he pounced on for 5-0, and perhaps the finest strike of all – 50 yards, centre to left, sending Ashley Young running down the left to collect the pass he managed to waste. There were trots across the turf from Beckham to congratulate those who had advanced still further England's case to be one of the favourites for South Africa, though the prevailing thought as the season ends is about Beckham finding the net again.

He has never scored at a Wembley Stadium – old or new. So does he have time? It seemed so, when Capello all but selected him for the foreseeable future late last night. "If Beckham is here, I choose him because he's one of the best English players," he said. "He's always done well when he's played."

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne celebrates after salvaging a point with the Southampton equaliser
footballAston Villa vs Southampton report
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Out and about: for 'Glee' character Bert Hummel, having a gay son was a learning curve
lifeEven 'cool' parents need help parenting gay teens
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
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

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible