Beckham bends one for England; Portugal wins a yellow-card affair

Monday, June 26, 2006

STUTTGART, Germany -- David Beckham bent the ball over the wall and squeezed England into the World Cup quarterfinals.

Beckham curled a trademark 25-yard free kick just inside the post in the 60th minute, giving England an ugly 1-0 victory over Ecuador on Sunday and a berth against Portugal.

For an hour, the English aimlessly passed the ball around the field in the 90-degree heat of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The game turned when Edwin Tenorio fouled Frank Lampard outside the penalty area.

Beckham, whose free kicks inspired the 2003 movie title "Bend it Like Beckham," hooked the ball ever so carefully over a defensive wall of four Ecuadoreans in bright yellow shirts.

Struck with expert touch, the ball dipped toward the corner, where goalkeeper Cristian Mora dived to his right and caught a piece of it with his fingertips. But he couldn't stop it as it shaved the post and squirted into the net.

Portugal 1, Netherlands 0

The World Cup turned ugly as Portugal, down to nine men in a game of brutal fouls, held off the Netherlands and staggered into the quarterfinals.

Both sides were guilty. Pushing, shoving and theatrics led to a record-tying 16 yellow cards -- and desperate attacking by the Dutch, also down to nine men, in the final moments.

The Portuguese might have survived, but when they play England they also might be without Cristiano Ronaldo, a creative attacker lost to a leg injury in the first half.

-- The Associated Press

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: