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England in quarter

Toothless Lions Finally Find Their Bite to Beat Ecuador

England players congratulate David Beckham on his winner -- as much in relief as celebration 

England toiled in scorching heat in Stuttgart in their last 16 clash against underdogs Ecuador but after surviving a few scares David Beckham's free-kick was enough to send the Three Lions into the quarter-finals.

It was a sweltering affair in front of a sell-out crowd of 52,000 in Stuttgart's Gottlieb Daimler Stadium.
England, one of the title favorites, came into the match wanting to improve on middling performances in the group stage - and trying to compensate for the absence of injured striker Michael Owen.
Ecuador, the surprise team of Group A, was trying to pull off the biggest upset in the nation's soccer history and send the Three Lions packing.
With temperatures on the pitch estimated at 40 degrees Celsius, it was a slow-paced contest. England's creative midfield confined itself to long balls aimed at striker Wayne Rooney, while Ecuador waited for a mistake by their opponents.
They got it in the tenth minute. Defender John Terry badly misjudged the ball, leaving Ecuador striker Carlos Tenorio seemingly alone in front of the goal. But defender Ashley Cole managed to get a leg in to deflect Tenorio's shot wide.
That was it for early goal chances. Aside from a couple of David Beckham free kicks, the Lions were toothless, and the first half ended in a goalless draw.
The second half started in equally languid fashion, with both teams looking as though they'd rather be at the pool. Extra time and penalties seemed inevitable.
Then England's captain came up trumps. After an hour of play, David Beckham curled one of his patented free-kicks past Ecuadoran keeper Cristian Mora and into the lower left-hand corner to put the English up 1-0. Beckham's heroic shot is sure to silence critics at home who had called for him to be removed from the starting eleven.
Ecuador, while solid in defense, couldn't manufacture any chances up front - especially as their top striker Carlos Tenorio had to be taken out with an ankle injury in the 70th minute.
England ran down the clock to get a crucial win in a tepid match and keep alive their bid for their first World Cup title in forty years.

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