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Football: ECUABORE; WORLD CUP LAST 16 Becks saves lacklustre England to throw up Portugal.

Byline: By FRANK MALLEY

England 1

Ecuador 0

SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON saluted England captain David Beckham after he had played through sickness to rescue England against Ecuador.

The Swede revealed he had not known Beckham was feeling unwell before the game and only realised when his skipper vomited after scoring his trademark free-kick on the hour mark which took his side through to a quarter-final clash against Portugal on Saturday.

Eriksson said: "I did not know he was feeling bad before the game. He didn't tell me, for sure. In the second half we saw it all, he didn't need to tell me.

"He's maybe the best player at set pieces in the world and he's still criticised."

Despite another drab performance in open play with a new 4-5-1 formation Eriksson insisted England were on course to win the World Cup.

He said: "We all know we can play better, but after four games we are playing better and better and the best will come.

"It's strange knowing you can play better and you've already reached the quarter finals.

"I'm not concerned. Everything will be okay. Germany are there, Argentina are there and we are the third team in the quarters. I'm rather proud of that. We will do better than we did four years ago.

"We didn't create many chances in the first half and the last pass was missing but it was better than against Sweden."

Eriksson was also pleased with the team's fitness levels in heat hovering around the ninety degrees mark and especially with I the fact Wayne Rooney lasted 90 minutes as the lone striker.

Eriksson added: "Rooney will be better and better. "I'm confident of that." Captain Beckham revealed a

Continued on Page 43

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jun 26, 2006
Words:293
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