THE honour of scoring England’s 2,000th international goal proved to be a tale of the unexpected at Wembley last night.
Step forward Daniel Majstorovic, the Celtic and Sweden centre-half, unwittingly nodding Gareth Barry’s glanced header home from a Stewart Downing cross in the 23rd minute of England’s 1-0 friendly success.
The ball was almost sucked back out of goal from the sharp intake of breath from Fleet Street’s finest as they felt the full horror of the easiest of lines for today’s papers disappearing into the net behind keeper Andreas Isaksson.
The writers had great hooks for just about every England suspect ready to notch that landmark – enigmatic Theo Walcott, pantomime villain John Terry, fresh-faced debutant Jack Rodwell, even, heavens preserve us, Bobby Zamora – all set to be immortalised for scoring THAT goal.
Instead it went to the journeyman Scandinavian, the 34-year-old defining himself in the space of a heartbeat as the answer to a pub quiz question for years to come.
It meant the writers had to look elsewhere for their intros and many of them found it in the promising senior debut of Everton’s excellent young midfielder Jack Rodwell.
There were stories in front and behind him, too – Bobby Zamora being tidy and busy up front, but doing little to suggest he is Fabio Capello’s best targetman, John Terry playing a captain’s innings at the back, while full-backs Kyle Walker and Leighton Baines shone as stand-ins.
Sweden, meanwhile, provided decent, but rarely dangerous opposition.
Sunderland’s Seb Larsson was impressive both up-front and in defence for his country – switched from midfield in the first half, to defence in the second in the wake of injury.
He told the Echo: “It’s disappointing to lose, but England played well and, from our own point of view, we were very much better than our last game, when we just didn’t perform at all against Denmark.
“I felt that we struggled a little in the first half, but got better as the game went on and in the second half, I felt we were the better team.
“England are never easy to beat at home, though, and I don’t think you can argue with the final result.
“It was a tough game, but, overall, they just about edged it.”