Peter Crouch stepped up his claims for a FIFA World Cup™ starting spot with two goals as England came from behind to defeat Egypt 3-1 at Wembley. The Tottenham striker took his goal tally for his country to 20 in 37 games after replacing club-mate Jermaine Defoe at half-time when England trailed to Mohamed Zidan's opener. Shaun Wright-Phillips also hit the target as England recovered from a poor first-half performance to run out comfortable winners.
"Anyone who plays for England is going to feel under pressure, certainly in a World Cup year," Crouch said after the game. "You can only try to do your best and I did. Its up to the manager. All you've got to do when given your chance is try and take it and I've given the manager something to think about tonight."
Egypt looked full of confidence in the early stages and enjoyed plenty of possession, but it was England who created the first clearcut opening after five minutes. Rooney picked out the run behind the Egyptian defence of Walcott and his low centre fell perfectly into the path of Frank Lampard, but the Chelsea midfielder struck his shot straight at Essam El Hadary who was able to parry his effort at the expense of a corner.
Rooney looked lively and El Hadary fumbled a low drive from the Manchester United player who had scored the winning goal against Aston Villa in the Carling Cup final on the same ground three days ago. However, England were indebted to a goal-line clearance from Defoe for keeping them on level terms after Robert Green appeared slow to react to a shot hit into the ground from Wael Gomaa following a corner from Mohamed Zidan.
Rooney set up a chance for Defoe but he hesitated slightly as he prepared to shoot and Ahmed El Mehamady was able to make the challenge. El Hadary cut out a low cross from Gareth Barry as England started to settle down although Zidan was only just too high with a shot from a narrow angle.
After 23 minutes the 80,000 home fans were stunned when Zidan put Egypt ahead following a slip by Matthew Upson. The West Ham defender went tumbling to the ground and allowed Zidan to take a pass from Hosni Abd Rabou in his stride, but the striker still showed some first-class control and a clinical finish in drilling his shot past Green.
England tried to retaliate and Rooney glanced a header wide from a chip into the box from Steven Gerrard. Then a corner from debutant Leighton Baines found its way to Lampard at the far post but his shot bounced down and over the crossbar. Defoe was only just too high with a flashing header and then forced El Hadary to push his shot around the post after shaking off the challenge of Gomaa who tried to tug him back.
England were now in control territorially and El Hadary held onto an effort from Terry from a Baines centre. Yet Egypt still moved the ball around in impressive fashion whenever the chance presented itself to venture forward. As usual, Rooney offered the best hope of providing some salvation early in the second half, but his curling 20-yard effort was easily collected by El Hadary. England's distribution of the ball was leaving a lot to be desired with a completely over-hit pass from Gerrard aimed at Rooney's run summing up their evening.
But out of the blue Crouch brought England back on level terms with 56 minutes on the clock. Gerrard found Barry in space to the right of the Egyptian box and his low cross was clinically converted by the Tottenham striker. Rooney volleyed just over the bar after Crouch had failed to make proper contact with a bicycle kick from a Wright-Phillips centre.
Gerrard was replaced after 72 minutes by James Milner and he quickly made an impact as England went ahead with 15 minutes remaining through fellow substitute Shaun Wright-Phillips. The Aston Villa midfielder saw his fierce shot beaten out by El Hadary but Wright-Phillips converted the rebound although the Egyptian keeper should have done better with his attempts to block the effort.
Then Crouch struck for the second time to take his England goal tally to 20 in the 80th minute. This time Wright-Phillips was the creator, although Crouch looked offside when he poked the ball over the line. Rooney left the field to rapturous applause when replaced by Carlton Cole, handing the captain's armband to Gareth Barry, who was the Three Lions’ third captain on a satisfactory night for Capello's men.