Millions raised by Soccer Aid as World XI win
Soccer Aid for Unicef raised further vital funds for children across the world on Sunday night as Old Trafford once again played host to the world-renowned charity match as the World XI retained their trophy after running out victors over England.
It took another penalty shoot-out to separate the two teams after the game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes following second-half strikes from Robbie Keane and Yung Filly. A host of United legends returned to the Theatre of Dreams for the match, including our all-time leading goalscorer Wayne Rooney, who was part of the England management team, and another of our former captains, Bryan Robson, who assisted Harry Redknapp for the World XI.
There were three familiar faces in the starting line-ups with Patrice Evra, Mikael Silvestre and Wes Brown all stepping back out on the hallowed Old Trafford turf. And Evra in particular looked like he could still do a job week in, week out.
It was the Frenchman, playing at right-back for a change, who had the first effort for the Soccer Aid World XI when he took aim in the seventh minute but his shot was blocked.
Lianne Sanderson and Chelcee Grimes were looking lively up front for the World XI and Sanderson slipped a lovely pass through to Grimes on 16 minutes but it was just too far ahead of her. Sanderson had a go from 20 yards soon after but David James, in the England goal, was there to claim.
After Michael Essien had fired over on 18 minutes, a brilliant Evra pass to Jeremy Lynch led to Brown making a superb last-ditch tackle to deflect the England forward’s shot behind for a corner. From the resulting set-piece Dermot Kennedy saw his attempt blocked from close-range and England breathed another sigh of relief.
The World XI were continuing to dominate and Evra went close when he cut inside from the right and fired a low drive towards the near post, but James got down well to tip it away.
The introduction of Yung Filly seemed to spur England into action and on 34 minutes he broke down the right and crossed brilliantly to the onrushing John Terry, who had motored forward, but the former Chelsea captain miscued his left-foot shot.
Filly almost got in on goal himself just before the break when Gareth Barry put him through, but Shay Given came out to smother the ball.
Former United midfielder Darren Fletcher started the second half for the World XI as did Robbie Keane, who has a habit of scoring in Soccer Aid. He duly kept his fine record going as he opened the scoring on 53 minutes with lovely curling shot from the edge of the area which flicked in off the inside of the post and just out of celebrity goalkeeper Alfie Allen’s reach in the England goal.
They almost doubled the advantaged four minutes later when Kennedy sent a shot goalwards from a corner but Katie Chapman was there to clear off the line.
After that scare, England went straight up the other end and levelled proceedings through the lively Yung Filly. He was found well by James Bay with a lovely floated cross and after the ball bobbled up from his first touch, the England forward side-footed calmly in the corner past celebrity stopper Ore Oduba’s reach.
The game was really starting to open up, with Fletcher and Keane continuing to catch the eye, and the World XI almost struck back immediately when Keane put Lynch through at the Stretford End, but Allen came out to block well with his feet.
Treble winner Andrew Cole replaced United fan Olly Murs on 80 minutes and he went up front alongside Emile Heskey. The Three Lions wanted a penalty soon after when Bay looked to be pulled down by Iain Stirling but the referee waved away the vehement appeals on the sidelines from Messrs Allardyce, Rooney and Walsh.
A Wright cross from the left was headed wide by Cole as the clock ticked down and it proved to be the last half-chance of the game as we headed to penalties once more, just as we did here in 2018.
Locksmith missed for the World XI but it was evened up when Lee Mack saw his spot-kick saved by Oduba. After going into sudden death the World XI claimed a dramatic victory as Chunkz fired the crucial penalty wide leaving the World XI to celebrate another famous Soccer Aid for Unicef win.
Don’t forget you can still donate to Soccer Aid for Unicef via SoccerAid.org.uk