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Five Aside

Beckham opens Galaxy account

Los Angeles Galaxy 2-0 DC United

David Beckham enjoyed a dream first start for the Los Angeles Galaxy with a trademark free-kick goal and an assist to send his new team on the way to the inaugural SuperLiga final with a victory over DC United at the Home Depot Center on Wednesday.

Beckham was a surprise starter given the ankle problems that had restricted him to just two brief substitute's appearances in his first month in America.

• Beckham praises Galaxy team effort

He played 63 minutes against DC United, scoring one goal and making another before being subbed midway through the second half and immediately having his troublesome left ankle wrapped in ice as he watched the rest of the game from the Galaxy bench.

Beckham was also handed the captaincy at Landon Donovan's expense by Galaxy head coach Frank Yallop and rose to the occasion with a bending 28th minute free-kick that left DC United keeper Troy Perkins helpless as it crashed into the net.

Beckham, who had been booked in the first half for a reckless tackle on DC captain Jaime Moreno, followed his goal with a perfect pass out of midfield two minutes after the restart which Donovan took to the edge of the area before slotting home to double the Galaxy lead as the LA side closed in on the August 29 final against Mexican champions CF Pachuca.

The Galaxy had once again been slow starters as they played their first home game since beating Pachuca in the SuperLiga group stages on July 24.

The Home Depot Center pitch had been turned into a Motocross arena for the X Games in the meantime and a newly-laid pitch did not look ideal for Beckham's suspect ankle. At least it was a real grass surface and the England midfielder looked perfectly at ease as the game got under way with his wife Victoria watching from the stands with their youngest son Cruz.

Galaxy's Joe Cannon was by far the busiest of the two goalkeepers, tipping over a long range Moreno shot after 11 minutes and making a flying save from Josh Gros four minutes later.

Beckham showed no signs of tentativeness as he got stuck into with some strong challenges, although his two-footed tackle on Moreno in the 18th minute rightly earned him a yellow card from referee Alex Prus.

More positive was his partnership with Donovan, who in the 20th minute broke out of the Galaxy half, beating two United players before sending the ball down the right wing to an overlapping Beckham. The Englishman chased the pass 30-yards before putting in a low cross low which was cut out by defender Devon McTavish at the near post.

Beckham was given a taste of retribution for his earlier lunge on Moreno midway through the first half when his legs were whipped from under him by Ben Olsen. He jumped straight up with a grin and was soon rewarded for his composure when McTavish fouled Carlos Pavon just outside the DC area.

As excitement rose sharply in the crowd, Beckham was finally able to live up to his star billing, standing poised at right angles to the goal as the DC defence organised its wall.

Their efforts were futile as Beckham lifted the ball over the left edge and watched as the ball curled with a dip past a static Perkins into the keeper's bottom left hand corner.

It was the perfect way for Beckham to open his account and it was good enough to give the Galaxy the first-half lead.

Galaxy raced out of the gates at the restart as Beckham slid the ball form inside the centre circle to a fast-running Donovan and the USA international advancing to the edge of the United area before slotting home right-footed to give the Galaxy a 2-0 lead.

Cannon had plenty more to do, turning an Emilio shot round the post in the 50th minute and saving from the same player from point-blank range three minutes later.

Beckham had an opportunity to add a second goal when Ben Olsen fouled Kyle Martino 30-yards out from goal three minutes before the hour mark but Perkins was equal to the task, saving at full stretch to his right.

It was Beckham's last contribution as he was subbed six minutes later to a standing ovation from the crowd and the congratulations of a grateful Yallop and the rest of the Galaxy bench.

  • Beckham praises Galaxy team effort

    David Beckham chose to play down his own contribution to Los Angeles Galaxy's 2-0 SuperLiga victory over DC United.

    Despite scoring the opening goal and making the second for Landon Donovan as the Galaxy reached the one million US dollars SuperLiga final against Mexican champions CF Pachuca on August 29, the England midfielder praised the overall team effort following a season of struggle in Major League Soccer.

    Speaking to game broadcaster Telefutura, Beckham said: 'It was nice to get the early goal.

    'But tonight was not just about my goal and Landon's goal. I think it was a team performance that was exceptional, we worked hard as a team and played hard as a team and we won as a team.

    'So tonight was more pleasing for the performance.'

    Beckham spoke of his relief at finally getting a start with the Galaxy following a month trying to recover from ankle ligament damage.

    'I've always said that everybody has to be patient. I had to let nature take its course with my ankle. It's an injury and there wasn't much I could do about that.

    'I was happy to be out there with the team and happy to be playing again so we're very happy tonight.'

    The England midfielder stressed that the victory was merely the start of what he hopes is a successful five-year stint in the USA.

    'We want to do the same again and again and again. It's a learning curve each game and that's how we want to take every game. I think it's important that we push on from here now.

    'We've won tonight, we're in a final but it's more important now that we just play as a team and carry on winning.'