Joe Cole off to World Cup?

Last updated : 18 April 2002 By Mike Reich
Cole: Awesome
Last night it was Joe Cole's turn to show England just what he could do with a football. And show them he did.

He put in an excellent performance that belied his age. Although he was only on the pitch for half a game, he was, in my opinion man of the match. He set up two of the second half goals, with some great runs and persistance.

He could have scored himself too, but a Paraguayan defender's hand was in the way, and the referee inexplicably allowed play to continue rather than giving the deserved penalty.

Joe was on fire, and left two of the opposition comatose after some dazzling footwork before unleashing a pass to Darius Vassell - another who seems to have booked his place on Sven's World Cup plane.

Sven said of Cole: "He is a player full of fantasy, a very special player. He made a mistake in the last match but against Paraguay he played safe when he needed to and took risks by trying to beat people in the right areas."

Although Joe said after the last match that he would be okay if he didn't go to Asia, as there are more important things, he is clearly hoping that he has done enough to impress the England gaffer.

"It would mean absolutely everything to be in the World Cup squad but if I don't make it, I'm young enough to have other chances. I don't want that to sound as though I've given up hope. It would be a dream come true if I was on that plane, especially after the criticism I took following the Italy match.

"No other young player has had more pressure put on him than me but I'm still confident when I go out on to the pitch. People have said things about me but I'm my own biggest critic. I don't feel I have anything to prove to anyone except myself. It's tremendous just to be around the rest of the squad."

Trevor Sinclair didn't have a vastly successful night, but he did set up England's last goal (albeit an own goal), with a good cross. However, Keiron Dyer, surely his greatest rival for a first team place didn't do himself many favours either. The jury is still out on Sinclair, but Dyer might get in ahead of the West Ham winger.

Elsewhere, Christian Dailly scored the only Scottish goal as they lost 2 - 1 to England's World Cup Group opponents, Nigeria. Christian scored with a powerful, well-placed header from a corner. The result leaves new German manager Berti Vogts without a victory since his arrival two games ago.