England regained the Soccer Aid crown with a deserved 3-1 win over the Rest of the World at Old Trafford on Sunday evening.
Goals from former United striker Teddy Sheringham, actor Jonathan Wilkes and ex-Sunderland star Kevin Phillips secured a third Soccer Aid win for the Three Lions who had earlier gone behind to a sublime strike from Kasabian guitarist Sergio Pizzorno.
Just over 67,000 fans - together with some famous faces including Wayne Rooney - were packed inside the Reds' stadium for Soccer Aid 2012, which once again raised millions of pounds for global children’s charity UNICEF. The crowd and peak-time television audience alike were treated to a highly entertaining evening involving a host of football legends and some of the world’s biggest celebrities from the world of TV, film and music.
The Rest of the World, who went into the game as defending champions, may have had the advantage when it came to the number of former United players on their side – Edwin van der Sar lined up in goal with Roy Keane and Jaap Stam starting together at the heart of the defence - but it was England who made the early running.
The Three Lions had good pace on both wings with the young legs of X Factor star Olly Murs, on the right, and JLS’s Aston Merrygold down the left. And both had a couple of early sighters. A neat passing move ended with Merrygold striking an effort straight at Van der Sar, before the Dutch stopper saved well with his feet after an excellent run and shot from United fan Murs, coming off the right wing.
Phillips blasted both a shot and a free-kick over the bar soon after, before the Rest of the World stunned the Three Lions with a goal out of nothing to take the lead on 22 minutes. Freddie Ljungberg picked up possession just outside the area before slotting a pass to Pizzorno who, from a tight angle on the left-side of the box, curled a delicious looping shot over David Seaman.
England responded well to the setback with Martin Keown heading just wide from a corner and comedian John Bishop forcing a top-class save from Van der Sar with a fizzing low drive from the edge of the area after being well set up by Sheringham.