England failed to capitalise on another inspired display by David Beckham and drew a blank in the first-half of their World Cup qualifier with Albania in Tirana.

Andy Cole squandered a good changed to break his international duck for England after only five minutes against the Albanians.

From an inswinging corner from Beckham was flicked on by Rio Ferdinand at the near post to the unmarked Cole.

But the Manchester United striker seemed to lack conviction and his half-hearted effort was comfortably blocked by Foto Strakosha.

Beckham's crosses were causing early problems for the home side and another in swinging free-kick picked out Paul Scholes.

His header contained plenty of power - but was deflected over the bar from close range.

Another cross from Beckham found the head of Sol Campbell at the far post but this time Geri Cipi got in the important block.

England were knocking the ball around with confidence in the early stages but they were given a moment of concern when a free-kick by Igli Tare was glanced across the face of goal by Vata.

Albania now came more into the game with most of their threat coming down the England left flank with Alban Bushi prominent.

A run by the striker took him past Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand to the byline but his low cross flashed across the face of the penalty area.

Bushi then advanced towards the English penalty area unchallenged and was only just too high with a 25-yard shot.

Ferdinand then hooked away a freekick from Fatmir Vata and then England suffered a setback when vice-captain Sol Campbell was forced out of the action with what looked like an ankle injury.

The Tottenham player kicked the air in frustration at having to leave the fray but he was clearly unfit to continue and was replaced by Wes Brown.

Albania then won a freekick in a dangerous position 20 yards from the England goal but Tare's left-footed effort was high and wide.

Cole then made a probing run before being body checked on the edge of the area by Lala and the resulting freekick from Beckham contained plenty of power and was turned around the post by Strakosha.

Brown got on the end of the resulting corner from his Manchester United team-mate but was unable to keep his header down and it flew harmlessly over the bar.

Beckham threatened danger every time he was in possession and one cross to the near post needed the combined efforts of Cipi and Fakaj to deny Cole getting in a shot at the near post.

Ferdinand then had a header blocked after getting on the end of another cross from the England skipper and then Owen, who had a quiet first-half, had appeals for a penalty turned down after claiming that Bellai had handled in the penalty area.

Lala became the first player to be yellow carded five minutes before the interval for a crude challenge on Ashley Cole.

England still looked to Beckham for most of their inspiration and a 30-yard free kick from the midfielder was saved away to his right Strakosha.
took one more step to a place in the 2002 World Cup with an unconvincing 2-0 win over a resolute Albanian side last night.
The tension was obvious in both players and crowd until man of the moment Michael Owen scored just before half time. There were plenty more nerves in the second half until Robbie Fowler's individual brilliance sealed the win in the 88th minute.
we have some players in uk ,what do you think about them?:))))??????
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Not much after Wedneday's game. LolEmotion: football
Albanian players in the UK? Who do they play for? Are they any good?