Beckham sets up Crouch goal against Austria

November 16, 2007

VIENNA, Austria -- David Beckham's corner kick was headed into the goal by Peter Crouch in the 44th minute on Friday night as England beat Austria 1-0 in an exhibition game but lost forward Michael Owen to a thigh strain.

Owen, who left in the 34th minute, appears likely to miss England's final European Championship qualifier, at home against Croatia on Wednesday. The English already are without their other top forward, Wayne Rooney, sidelined until next month because of an injured ankle.

"It is a huge blow," midfielder Frank Lampard said. "We all know Michael's quality."

Beckham returned after missing four England matches due to a knee injury sustained while playing for Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. It was the 98th international appearance for the former England captain, and he started and played until the 62nd minute, when David Bentley replaced him.

For England to have a realistic chance of qualifying for next summer's 16-nation tournament, Israel must get a tie or victory on Saturday against visiting Russia. Croatia (8-0-2) leads Group E with 26 points, followed by England (7-2-2) with 23 and Russia (6-1-3) with 21. Russia closes next Wednesday at Andorra, which is 0-10. Only the top two teams qualify.

The goal by the 6-foot-6-inch Crouch was his 13th in 23 international appearances.

Austria and Switzerland are co-hosts of next June's tournament.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press