<i>England 2 Uruguay 1</i>

World Cup year started badly for Sven-Göran Eriksson and looked set to get worse until Joe Cole supplied the pain relief.

Eriksson, exposed by a fake sheikh in the Middle East, watched as the frailties of his "best XI" were laid bare by an outfit not good enough to join the world's best in Germany.

Uruguay led 1-0 at half-time, before the friendly descended into a familiar circus of substitutions.

But Peter Crouch cheered the frustrated Liverpool crowd with his first international goal in his fifth game.

He sank a header at the back post, in the 75th minute, after good play by England's attacking star Cole.

The brilliant Cole then grabbed the winner in the third minute of stoppage time.

It could not disguise an uninspiring display and, to make matters worse, Wayne Bridge was carried off with injured ankle ligaments after an accidental collision with 'keeper Paul Robinson.

It is the second "friendly-fire" incident involving Robinson this season. He was involved when Michael Owen broke a bone in his foot, during a game between Tottenham and Newcastle.

It was a cruel twist for Chelsea full-back Bridge who is back in regular Premiership action, on loan at Fulham, after breaking his ankle last year.

Chris Coleman and Jose Mourinho will not be too happy either, especially the Chelsea boss who has already seen Frank Lampard return lame from England duty.

Mourinho may have something to say about Cole, England's best player, who played 90 minutes despite promises that players from clubs still in Europe would not play a full game.

For Eriksson, Bridge's injury means he is currently without a left-back, because Ashley Cole suffered another setback in his return from long-term injury this week.

The Uruguayans were shipped in to simulate Paraguay, England's first World Cup Group B opponents, because Eriksson wanted his players to learn about the South American style, but the first lesson for England was not to underestimate any teams from this continent.

Uruguay may not be in Germany, after losing in a play-off to Australia, but they are stubborn opponents for England who had only won two of nine meetings before this clash.

The visitors were quick and neat but England, full of fight and passion on their last outing against Argentina, looked flat.

They started sloppily but, not for the first time, Rio Ferdinand was the man who illustrated the casual mood best.

He ran the ball coolly out of defence until a flash turn in midfield cost him possession.

England quashed the threat but another Ferdinand error gave his former Manchester United team-mate Diego Forlan the first clear opening of the game.

Only Ferdinand's pace saved his blushes at the expense of a corner but it was no great shock when Uruguay took the lead with a blistering finish from Omar Pouso.

John Terry rose to head a corner clear and, when it dropped to Pouso outside the box, he smashed it back into the top corner of Robinson's net.

The setback stirred England slightly. They managed to force the tempo up a gear and finished the first half in control.

Terry rampaged through the heart of Uruguay's team and looked set to score a spectacular first international goal but keeper Fabian Carini hurled his body in front of the shot. Carini did enough to deflect the effort wide.

Darren Bent, on his England debut, showed glimpses of his acceleration but could not finish two good chances. He dragged wide a snap-shot which fell kindly for him in the goalmouth, three minutes before half-time.

Then he missed the target with a simple header, midway through the second half. It was not a performance to seal the Charlton man's place in Eriksson's final 23.

Michael Carrick, in his first England game of the season, did not clinch his plane ticket either.

Beckham picked up a booking for a high tackle on Mario Regueiro, who plays his club football in Spain with Valencia.

The England skipper went close with a free-kick, early in the second half, before making way for Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Wayne Rooney fizzed for 64 minutes, firing a couple of efforts at goal from distance, and was then replaced by Crouch.

The Liverpool striker was cheered on to the Anfield pitch and promptly delivered the equaliser.

Cole twisted on the left wing and swung a deep cross towards the far post where Crouch met it with a firm header.

It lifted the crowd and England finished strongly. Crouch set up Cole a minute later but his shot was saved by substitute keeper Sebastian Viera.

Cole grabbed the winner, turning a Wright-Phillips cross into the net at the near post.

Eriksson at least knows they have the spirit to fight to the end. ..SUPL: