Upson blames Wembley turf for mistake

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The Independent Football

England defender Matthew Upson blamed the Wembley playing surface for his slip which let in Egypt to stun the home crowd at Wembley last night.

Two goals in the second half from Peter Crouch and one from Shaun Wright-Phillips meant England recovered to win 3-1 in the friendly international.

But Upson and senior stars including Frank Lampard were critical of the state of the pitch, following similar complaints expressed by players after Sunday's Carling Cup final.

Upson lost his footing to allow Mohamed Zidan the space to place a fine shot past Robert Green after 23 minutes.

Upson said: "Was the Egypt goal down to the pitch? I'd like to think so. I had the usual boots on, long studs, and the pitch just went from underneath my feet.

"It is a bit disappointing. When I first walked on the pitch, it was quite firm, which I was pleased with.

"But it just gave way, and cut up a bit, once you put a bit of force down on it."

Midfielder Lampard said: "I think the pitch was definitely the reason why Upson slipped.

"It kept giving way below you, was very soft underneath, and it should be better, it's as simple as that.

"Everyone is commenting on it and Wembley should be better than that. What could be done? They could change the pitch maybe!"

Goalkeeper Green said: "It wasn't the easiest pitch. It showed with the goal.

"Matthew has had the rug pulled out from under his feet and it is disappointing for him.

"But it is inevitable and it is something you deal with. A problem is a problem if you let it affect you.

"It is a difficulty but that's life. You either let it affect you or you don't."

Debutant Leighton Baines said: "I've played on worse pitches. It didn't cause too many problems but, for their goal, Matty has slipped and the surface has come away a little bit.

"Those kind of things aren't ideal and, when it is such a big moment like that, when you concede a goal, it is not the kind of thing you are looking for."

Lampard believes it is crucial that England can call on players from the bench to change a game and Crouch, a second-half substitute last night, now has 20 goals in 37 games for his country.

Lampard said: "We have a very strong squad and there have been games before where the manager has changed the team around and the team has still performed.

"That is very important because who knows what is going to happen in a tournament with injuries and form.

"We need to know we can rely on people and we have certainly got a squad of players we can rely on."