Beckham's star turn a bright spot for Galaxy despite Sydney defeat

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The Independent Football

David Beckham feared he had severely damaged his ankle after falling to the turf following a nasty collision during LA Galaxy's 5-3 loss to Sydney FC in an exhibition match at Telstra Stadium yesterday.

Beckham's ankle collapsed under him on the greasy surface, before the problem was compounded by Sydney midfielder Brendon Santalab sliding into his legs. The 80-000-strong crowd, here largely to see the former Manchester United and Real Madrid man in action, waited for around a minute before he limped back into action.

He finished the half strongly, scoring from a trademark free-kick from around 25 yards shortly before the break before playing out the full game.

Beckham later revealed he was worried he had re-injured the ankle which marred the end of his career with Real Madrid.

"I was worried at first because I felt as if I'd twisted my ankle again and done the same injury I had with Real Madrid," he said. "It wasn't as bad – it just caught under the guy that slid in. It's all part of the game. It's fine."

Asked why he refused to leave the field, Beckham said: "I always try to stay on whether I'm injured or get kicked in games. It's part of the game and I'm quite a stubborn person and when I want to play there's not many people who can convince me to come off.

"I was happy to stay on the whole game. I wanted to play. So many fans turn out and they expect you to be out there for as much time as possible."

Galaxy's new coach Ruud Gullit admitted he briefly thought about replacing the former England captain but was glad he left him on.

"He didn't have any injury, he had a knock, that can happen," Gullit explained. "But it was tempting [to take him off]. I had a lot of difficulties with my own substitutions – I didn't have many players here – so he couldn't be [replaced].

"Also I had a feeling that he liked the game. It's an environment every player wants to play, 80,000 people. He knows also his responsibility to come here. He wanted to make that effort."

Speaking of Beckham's performance, the former Newcastle and Chelsea coach said: "I am happy with the effort of David. He scored a marvellous goal, so the crowd got what it wanted. I am very happy with his performance."

The Sydney side did not take it easy on Beckham in the second half. Robbie Middleby was cautioned for a bodycheck on the Galaxy captain in the 49th minute – but Beckham got some of his own back in the 64th.

He slid in under Middleby, then got up, flashed a cheeky smile and hugged the Sydney player as referee Mark Shield produced a yellow card.

Galaxy fell 3-0 behind before Beckham and Edson Buddle pulled goals back. Further goals to Middleby and Iain Fyfe pushed Sydney ahead 5-2 before Landon Donovan scored a consolation goal at the death.

Beckham, trailed by paparazzi and constantly under the media gaze since arriving on Sunday, fulfilled his playing obligations in Sydney. The MLS club's tour went ahead on the proviso that Beckham played a decent part in matches against A-League clubs Sydney and Wellington Phoenix.

Beckham mixed with celebrities at a harbourside function on Monday night, including Elton John and actor Anthony LaPaglia, who is a part-owner of Sydney FC. Beckham's wife, Victoria was preparing for the Spice Girls reunion tour and unable to travel with him.

But impersonator Camilla Shadbolt, who earns a living posing as Victoria Beckham, flew in from Britain on Sunday and caused some confusion with cameos around the city.

The Beckham-led Galaxy match was the team's first exhibition outside North America and was televised internationally. Beckham was scheduled to appear at a perfume launch in Sydney today before leaving for New Zealand and Saturday's match against the Phoenix.