England strolled to a comfortable injury-free victory in their final World Cup warm-up game against local side Platinum Stars at the Moruleng Stadium near Rustenburg.
The match was given the go ahead amid safety fears of crowd trouble following 16 casualties at a similar warm-up game outside Johanasburg in a match between Nigeria and North Korea.
Following Rio Ferdinand’s shock departure, Ledley King was chosen as his replacement in what was a solid starting eleven for England, which included Joe Cole on the left and Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right of midfield.
Other notable inclusions in Fabio Capello’s starting line-up were Joe Hart who was given the nod ahead of Robert Green with the players swapping at half-time and Tottenham’s Jermaine Defoe, who was handed a rare opportunity start alongside fellow team-mate Peter Crouch.
It was Defoe who put England into an early lead. Wright-Phillips played Gerrard in on the right and his pinpoint pass across the face of goal found Defoe who slotted home with ease, but the away side were unable to add to their lead before the break.
In fact the hosts should have levelled minutes later after a foolish Glen Johnson challenge gave Platinum Stars a penalty, but striker Bradley Grobler fired over much to the relief of Joe Hart.
Capello seemed agitated with his side’s lethargic first half performance and made several changes at the interval. The introduction of Wayne Rooney picked up the pace and he along with Emile Heskey and James Milner wasted early chances to further the tourists lead.
The home side threatened to cause an upset when Alton Meiring fired wide of substitute Robert Greens goal, but England’s response was immediate. Joe Cole found himself unmarked in the penalty area after a quick counter-attack and comfortably slotted home their second.
Any fitness worries surrounding the Chelsea midfielder were firmly put to an end after a solid display, in which he lasted the full 90-minutes with ease to add to manager Fabio Capello’s selection headache before the USA opener.
The visitors continued to push on and Rooney sealed England’s victory with a superbly taken volley after some clever link up play between second half substitutes Stephen Warnock and James Milner, who impressed throughout to stake his claim in Saturdays line-up.
ENGLAND STARTING ELEVEN:
J. Hart (R. Green 45), G. Johnson (J. Carragher 45), J. Terry (M. Dawson 45), L. King (M. Upson 45), A. Cole (S. Warnock 45), J. Cole, F. Lampard (J. Milner 45), S. Gerrard M. Carrick 45), S. Wright-Phillips (A. Lennon 45), P. Crouch (E. Heskey 45), J. Defoe (W. Rooney 45)