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MATCH REPORT

Posted on 12 August 2006  - 12:00

Michael Dawson celebrated his England call-up with his first goal for us and the winner against Real Sociedad in Saturday's friendly at the Lane.

Michael Dawson celebrated his England call-up with his first goal for us and the winner against Real Sociedad in Saturday's friendly at the Lane.

The central defender was named in Steve McClaren's first England squad on Friday and was on the spot when Dimitar Berbatov headed down Didier Zokora's deep corner in the 61st minute. He might have had another almost identical goal only for the linesman's flag to rule it out.

Jermain Defoe, also in that England squad to face Greece on Wednesday, opened the scoring with a cracking finish in the first half as we completed another summer unbeaten in pre-season friendlies.

With the big kick-off at Bolton now on the horizon, it was good to see Didier Zokora complete his first 90 minutes at the Lane and look so comfortable in the holding midfield role.

Aaron Lennon was a constant threat, Lee Young-Pyo looked at home again at right-back and newcomers Berbatov and Benoit Assou-Ekotto continue to catch the eye.

We didn't have it all our own way though as Real Sociedad proved a tough nut to crack and shocked the home crowd with an equaliser completely out of the blue just as we looked to get on top towards the end of the first half.

The opening exchanges were like a chess match as we worked out how to break down this tight Spanish unit, Rivas particularly impressing in his anchor role within a five-man midfield.

A couple of bursts from Lennon had fans out of their seats but goalmouth action at either end was at a premium.

That all changed in the 27th minute when Jermaine Jenas got a foot in centrally, Edgar Davids picked up the pieces and threaded past the perfect pass for Defoe to expertly pick his spot from 20 yards.

Jenas went close to doubling the lead after 34 minutes when Berbatov nodded down Zokora's corner and the midfield pounced only to see his snap volley crash back off the crossbar.

Rekarte was forced to hack away Defoe's cross with Lennon ready to tap home and a second goal looked on the cards - unfortunately, it arrived out of the blue at the other end!

With 39 minutes on the clock, a Sociedad attack appeared to have broken down about 35 yards out only for Uranga to pick up the ball and curl into the far corner beyond the diving Paul Robinson.

The start of the second half was a stark contrast to the first as we managed to penetrate straight away. Two fantastic crosses from Assou-Ekotto caused havoc and a typical Lennon dart led to tricky chances for Berbatov.

What turned out to be the winner arrived after 61 minutes. Zokora hit a deep corner to the far post that Berbatov headed back, Davenport challenged, the ball was loose and Dawson arrived right on time to smash home.

A number of substitutions began to affect the rhythm of the game - although Lennon looked a threat every time he received the ball, forcing Alonso into a cynical foul after 65 minutes - and the next action of note was Dawson's 'goal' disallowed for offside, another clinical finish from close range after 71 minutes.

A couple more crosses flashed in at either end and that was about that - Reebok Stadium, here we come!