England outclass Denmark to reach last eight

 

Denmark 0 England 3

England outclassed Denmark 3-0 to reach the World Cup quarter-finals today.

First-half goals from Rio Ferdinand, striker Michael Owen and Liverpool team- mate Emile Heskey crowned a superb display for Sven-Goran Eriksson's side, who now advance to a last eight showdown with either Brazil or Belgium in Shizuoka next Friday.

Against Danish opponents who earlier this week had sent champions France crashing out of the tournament, England dominated from start to finish with a composed performance at rain-soaked Big Swan Stadium.

England got off to a dream start after only five minutes, when a corner from captain David Beckham caused panic in the Danish six yard box.

Ferdinand's header at the back post was off-target but back-pedalling Denmark keeper Thomas Sorensen fluffed his attempt to gather, inadvertently fumbling the ball over the line.

Ferdinand wheeled away to celebrate but Sorensen was at fault. To make matters worse for Denmark, the melee saw influential defender Thomas Helveg leave the field injured after colliding with a stanchion behind the goal, forcing an unwanted reshuffle on the Danes, Kasper Bogelund coming on.

On 22 minutes England's total early domination got its reward with a superb eight-pass move launched by a 40-yard ball from Paul Scholes to Manchester United colleague Beckham.

Trevor Sinclair broke down the left and played a low centre into the Danish area. Nicky Butt flicked on, the ball took a kind deflection off Danish marker Thomas Gravesen and found Owen with time to pick his spot with a low finish past Sorensen.

Danish frustration at their inability to get into the match was summed up by midfield enforcer Stig Tofting's early booking for dissent. Tofting, who had a quiet game, was later substituted.

England were warned against complacency a few minutes after Owen's goal, when Danish striker Ebbe Sand broke into the box and sent a firm low shot flying inches past the post.

But on the stroke of half-time England all but sealed their place in the next round. A long throw by Danny Mills was poorly dealt with Niclas Jensen and Beckham picked up the loose ball, sweeping to Heskey who thumped an unstoppable low shot beneath Sorensen.

Eriksson, who had replaced Owen with Leeds' Robbie Fowler at half-time, then brought off Scholes for Newcastle's Kieron Dyer.

A flashpoint occurred on 50 minutes when fullback Mills collided with Danish skipper Rene Henriksen to earn a yellow card.

PA