Football: MICHAEL IS A GIANT! ENGLAND US TOUR ENGLAND RATINGS Colombia England from the Giants Stadium, New Jersey History-Man Owen Sends a Message to Sven: I'm the Best Striker You Have Got
Byline: Martin Lipton IN NEW JERSEY
THE LITTLE man walked tall in Giants Stadium last night as England signed off for the season with a win that laid down a challenge for next summer.
Michael Owen had arrived in the Big Apple barely noticed by the circus surrounding fellow passenger David Beckham.
But even the Americans, who still can't get worked up by the greatest sport of all, should know that Owen is one of the global game's great talents.
The three goals that saw Owen become England's fourth-highest scorer of all time were example of a master craftsman at work.
The first two saw Owen alive to the openings and caressing the ball into the Colombian net after being sent scurrying into the danger area by Joe Cole and then skyscraper striker Peter Crouch.
Even a horrible goal from Colombian defender Mario Alberto Yepes - which can only have harmed what remains of David James' confidence - could not deny Owen his glory.
When skipper Beckham played in to the near post just before the hour, it was no surprise to see Owen alive when the South American back line was all asleep to steer home his second England hat-trick.
A late effort from Ramirez set up a tense finish.
Beckham and Owen had arrived from Spain like the Seventh Cavalry coming to the rescue of Sven Goran Eriksson's battle-weary troops, although Crouch had recovered from his freak ankle knock to make his debut up front.
It was a great opportunity for the beanpole Southampton striker to stake his claim to be in the 23 when the World Cup kicks off in Germany next June.
But a central-defensive pairing of Zat Knight and Glen Johnson demonstrated the reality that Eriksson was scraping the very bottom of his England barrel, with Kieran Richardson and Luke Young drafted in to make up the numbers on the bench and prevent the embarrassment of having to use David James as an outfield player.
Yet after making a lightning start against the USA in Chicago, England should have made an even more blistering beginning against the South Americans.
Johnson stepped in to intercept on half-way and instantly released Chelsea team-mate Joe Cole cantering through the inside left channel.
Cole sent central defender Jair Benitez on to his backside as he moved inside but with the goal gaping in front of him, his right-footed curler from 18 yards was always miles too high.
James was well-positioned to gather a raking drive by midfielder John Restrepo but the pitch was a problem for both teams, with the ball barely running at all, frustrating Owen when he turned past Benitez inside the box.
Michael Carrick was composed in the middle of the park and Jermaine Jenas busy, while Beckham was desperate to make himself available on the right. …