Neville's first game
Gary Neville's first game as a manager. He was anxious and nervous as to how his England side would play. He had been entrusted with the role, even if only for a brief period, so he had to do his job right. Even though it was just a friendly, Neville still felt like it was the Final of the World Cup.
The temporary England boss gave David Stockdale, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, Alex Chamberlain and Daniel Sturridge the nod, meaning these youngsters will earn their first cap for England today against South Africa. Danny Welbeck, playing alongside club mate Wayne Rooney in attack, will earn only his second England cap.
The first goal inevitably came from England, with a Tom Cleverley corner finding Phil Jones. The two wonder kids, teammates at United, showed good chemistry as they played a one-two, before Cleverley's ball found Steven Gerrard and the England captain shot home. A terribly accurate shot. Past the keeper. England 1 - 0 South Africa.
The second goal also came from England, as on 20 minutes exactly, a superb cross from veteran Ashley Cole found the unmarked Tom Cleverley, who caught the ball easily and flicked it into the back of the net for his first England goal on his first England appearance. The 21-year-old looked understandably delighted as he ran to the corner of the pitch to celebrate with fellow England newcomers Welbeck and Sturridge.
It was definitely the newcomers' afternoon.
Just five minutes after Cleverley's goal, in rushed Danny Welbeck, and fed by a magnificent Steven Gerrard pass, the Ghanaian-born striker beat the offside trap to go one-on-one with the keeper and finish, to score his first England goal. 3-0 England.
And just three minutes later, it was the captain again who swung in an awesome corner, for Phil Jones to get to the ball with his head and perform a smashing header to see the ball hit the back of the net. His first England goal as well.
At the half time whistle, England were 4-0 up.
"Very well done boys," Neville said passionately. "You lads performed mighty fine."
This obviously lifted the squad's high spirit even higher. A couple of changes were made as Chamberlain, unimpressive in his first ever 45 minutes for England, came off for Ashley Young. Wayne Rooney, completely outshone by Danny Welbeck, came off to accommodate Neville's decision to move Sturridge from the right up to the front, and the 25-year-old United forward soon came off for Tottenham's Aaron Lennon.
South Africa were a different side from the first half, able to hold England's attack by the usual "parking bus" method. England's frustration mounted, and Man City full-back Micah Richards was soon sent off for a reckless challenge on a South African attacker in the 86th minute.
Solid defending allowed South Africa to see the half out.
4-0 win for England, only marred by Richards' sending off, but Neville was clearly delighted.