International Football: New boys prosper

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IT WAS the prediction all England wanted to hear. 'I think in two years' time the England squad are capable of winning the European Championships,' Richard Moller Nielsen, the coach of the current champions, said after his Danish side's defeat at Wembley last night, writes Henry Winter.

Terry Venables, his England counterpart, was understandably more circumspect but still pronounced himself 'very pleased' with the friendly victory. 'It couldn't have been a better start,' Venables said of his first match in charge. 'Terrific. All in all very promising.'

The two new boys who started, Darren Anderton and Graeme Le Saux, particularly impressed Venables. Anderton, who would have scored but for Marc Rieper's goal-line intervention, again repaid the faith of the man who brought him to Tottenham two years ago. 'We were saying in the dressing- room that we couldn't remember a better debut,' Venables said.

Le Saux, who helped create David Platt's goal, delivered a 'very confident' display, Venables added. 'He's good at going forward, he's capable of going by people and getting in quality crosses. His defensive qualities were also good.'

Venables also paid tribute to a Wembley crowd of 71,970 whose lusty rendition of the national anthem set the tone for a spirited England performance. 'The support was heartwarming,' Venables said. Peter Beardsley, delighted to earn his 50th cap after a three-year wait, said: 'We gave them the football they wanted to see.'

The impressive product was crafted largely by David Platt, whose ceaseless industry and desire to score earned him his manager's praise. 'His goal was terrific,' Venables said. 'It's very difficult to get the foot round the ball from that angle and hit it into the far corner.'

Before departing with the match video clasped firmly in one hand, Venables said: 'I go back into mothballs for five to six weeks now.' At least he, like the rest of the watching public, will have uplifting memories of his debut as national coach.