Trinidad & Tobago 0 Sweden 0: Yorke inspires T&T to become fantasy islanders

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The Independent Football

In a classic rearguard action, T & T's two elder statesmen called the tune. Shaka Hislop, in his 38th year and called into the starting XI only minutes before kick-off, capped a fine display in the closing minutes with a reflex save from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a point-blank stop from Marcus Allback when the ex-Aston Villa forward seemed certain to score.

Dwight Yorke, another ex-Villan and a mere stripling of 34, delivered a passable impersonation of Franz Beckenbauer. Sweden were frustrated, T & T elated - they hit the bar through Cornell Glen and stayed in the sun to milk the applause afterwards - while England are two points clear in Group B.

On an afternoon that would have had Yorke's cricketing counterpart Brian Lara mopping his brow after every run, the heat was on for the Caribbean islanders before a ball had been kicked in earnest. Kelvin Jack, the first-choice goalkeeper, aggravated a calf strain during the warm-up and withdrew.

West Ham's Hislop flapped at the first corner he faced and was thankful to see Ibrahimovic's goalbound shot thud into Avery John. This was the cue for Yorke to assert his experience. Performing his new role in front of centre-backs from Gillingham and Wrexham - who faced strikers from Barcelona and Juventus - the captain was a rock.

Practically his only error came after four minutes when he scythed down Freddie Ljungberg. Henrik Larsson's free-kick fizzed narrowly wide, but much as Sweden poured forward, with Ibrahimovic's bicycle kick just wide and Larsson heading over from Ljungberg's centre, it was T & T who forced the game's first save.

Carlos Edwards' swerving drive from 20 yards was well held by Rami Shaaban, the one-time Arsenal understudy making his first competitive appearance for Sweden. It was no more than a respite, however, and Hislop had to be at his most agile to prevent Christian Wilhelmsson and Ibrahimovic scoring as half-time loomed.

T & T headed for the interval to rapturous acclaim, only for the carnival atmosphere to be soured within 30 seconds of the re-start. Avery John, cautioned during the first half for a foul on Wilhelmsson, ploughed into the same player and was banished.

Once more, Yorke came to the fore. With Larsson 12 yards out and poised to shoot, the former Manchester United striker snaked out a leg like Franco Baresi in his pomp to execute a clean tackle. Sweden whipped the ball back in; Yorke, almost inevitably, snuffed out the danger.

Leo Beenhakker's reaction to his team's straitened circumstances was bold. Instead of sending on an extra defender, the enigmatic Dutch coach threw on Glen alongside Stern John. Within minutes the substitute had twanged Shaaban's bar from 20 yards, but T & T had to be content with their moral victory.

"The start was difficult and we were a bit overwhelmed by the atmosphere, but even with 10 men for 44 minutes we did well," Beenhakker said. "I know it's no guarantee for the next match [against England on Thursday], but in football two and two almost never make four. It's often three or five."