In his first Major League Soccer start, David Beckham was instrumental in three Galaxy goals but couldn't prevent Los Angeles from falling 5-4 to the New York Red Bulls on Saturday.

New York's Jozy Altidore and Juan Pablo Angel and the Galaxy's Carlos Pavon all scored twice at a packed Giants Stadium.

After some initial defensive errors by Los Angeles, New York opened the scoring in the fourth minute on a free kick from Angel, who fired through the defensive wall, but two minutes later Pavon scored for Los Angeles, nodding home a Beckham corner kick.

Beckham and Pavon came together again in the eighth minute, this time the Honduran striker scoring by heading in a trademark Beckham free-kick from the right side.

New York's Clint Mathis equalized two minutes into first-half injury time, slamming the ball home from well outside the penalty area after a goalmouth scramble.

Altidore scored his first goal on a 49th minute counterattack to make it 3-2, then scored again in the 70th minute, firing a fierce shot past goalkeeper Joe Cannon after dribbling across the top of the box.

Landon Donovan replied for the Galaxy a minute later, racing the length of the field to make it 4-3, and Edson Buddle scored in the 82nd minute to tie the game at 4-4, when the ball fell to him after team-mate Kyle Veris' header hit the crossbar from another Beckham corner kick .

Angel tallied the winner in the 88th, scoring from close range after a fierce long-range shot from Mathis was blocked by Cannon.

A crowd of more than 66,000 was on hand for the game at the New York area venue, a record for an MLS game not part of a double-header.

Beckham admitted he hadn't expected to play the full 90 minutes.

"I was surprised to actually play 90 minutes," Beckham said. "The manager and the coaching staff kept asking me if I wanted to come off. But I'm quite a stubborn person on and off the field. When we were winning I didn't want to come off and when we were losing I didn't want to come off.

"I think my stubborness took over and I didn't want to come off the pitch."

Beckham initially had been reluctant to play on the artificial turf at Giants Stadium.

"My ankle took a pounding, obviously. I'm not used to this surface but it wasn't bad," Beckham said. "There were a couple of instances where I rolled over on my ankle but at the end of the day we have to play on this surface."

Beckham said his ailing ankle did swell, but he didn't think it would affect him as he travels to England for a friendly Wednesday against Germany.

"My ankle is more swollen than it was before the game, but I'm sure it will be fine for Wednesday."