2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™

9 June - 9 July

2006 FIFA World Cup™

Maradona scores but England win UNICEF match

Diego Maradona turned the clock back 20 years to score against England once again, but singer Robbie Williams had the last laugh by leading his pro-celebrity team to a 2-1 victory over a Rest of the World side in the UNICEF children's charity match, Soccer Aid.

Argentine legend Maradona, who received some good-natured boos from England fans still upset over his infamous handball goal at Mexico 86, got on the scoresheet for the Rest of the World at Old Trafford thanks to a somewhat ironic penalty award.

The 2002 FIFA World Cup™ Final referee Pierluigi Collina may be retired these days but the Italian's trademark piercing eyes easily picked out a handball inside the area by England's singing full-back, David Gray, following Maradona's teasing cross.

Go to the UNICEF page

Maradona's side-footed penalty was not enough to deny the home side, an unlikely collection of UK celebrities and ex-England internationals, guided by former national coach Terry Venables. England started brightly and would have gone in front early on but for the age-defying saves of Rest of the World goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel.

Maradona was one of no fewer than four past FIFA World Cup winners on show in front of 72,000 excited spectators in Manchester. He lined up with Marcel Desailly (France), Lothar Matthaus (Germany) and Dunga (Brazil) in a Rest of the World team which also featured such diverse talents as Rangers footballer-turned-celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and the former Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson.

Schmeichel played well in a 45-minute return to the home of his former club, Manchester United, though the 42-year-old Dane was left helpless in the 14th minute when England's Italia 90 hero Paul Gascoigne crossed for striker Les Ferdinand to plant a firm diving header into the net.

Birthday treat

Gascoigne, who turned 39 on Saturday, cried theatrical tears as a near-capacity crowd sang "Happy birthday" to him before the game and he was also involved in England's second goal after 20 minutes, supplying one of Soccer Aid's organisers, English TV presenter and entertainer Jonathan Wilkes.

Once an Everton youth player, Wilkes jinked inside the box before intelligently clipping the ball over a lunging Schmeichel, a treasured moment which helped earn him the Bobby Moore Man of the Match award among highly illustrious company.

The Rest of the World rallied in the second half when Italy's Gianfranco Zola came off the bench. The one-time Chelsea playmaker went close to pulling a goal back when, Pele-style, he tried an outrageous shot from inside his own half which missed the outside of the post by a metre.

Rest of the World coach Ruud Gullit made an unscheduled appearance on the pitch as injuries took their toll, but the Dutchman proved less than accurate with one thundering attempt that finished up curling out for a throw-in.

Zola, seemingly still in his prime, looked the classiest ex-professional on show, though he was frustrated with himself for chipping over the bar after a timeless flowing move featuring Gullit and Maradona, who played for the full 90 minutes and suffered a few hefty challenges. Maradona's penalty raised hopes of a late revival by the Rest of the World, but England held on to their lead.

It was singer Williams, who looked a useful left-back, who collected the Soccer Aid trophy from yet another FIFA World Cup winner, and the night's guest of honour, proud Englishman Sir Bobby Charlton. UNICEF was the true champion, however, as ITV's Soccer Aid raised an estimated £6m for the world youth charity.