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Friday, June 26, 1998 Published at 23:38 GMT 00:38 UK

Sport: Football

Beckham makes his mark

Beckham blasts in his second-half goal

David Beckham finally stamped his presence on France 98 with a spectacular goal in the 2-0 win over Colombia - then declared: "I've never played better."

The 23-year-old Manchester United midfielder had been devastated to be left on the bench for England's first two France 98 games, with Glenn Hoddle saying he was not focussed.

But Beckham took his chance in style against Colombia in Lens, scoring his first goal in 18 internationals with a blistering free-kick as England eased towards a place in the last 16 - and a showdown against Argentina on Tuesday.

"That was my best performance for England," he said.

'I was that confident'

I was given the central midfield that I want and I kept hold of the ball and didn't give it away.

"As soon as the free-kick was given I knew it was my sort of distance and felt it was right for me. I told myself that if I hit it right and got it over the wall it would be in.

"I was that confident and as soon as I hit it I knew it was going in."

Hoddle said: "In the early stages of the tournament he wasn't quite there mentally but he is now." Hoddle also said Darren Anderton - England's other scorer - had proved his doubters wrong.

'Conclusive and controlled'

Summing up the victory that secured second place in Group D, the coach added: "If we'd taken half of our chances we would have won by four or five.

"It was a conclusive and controlled performance, perhaps the best under me. Everybody was worth eight out of 10. When you do that you normally win.

"We've already turned our thoughts toward Argentina and we're looking for the same sort of performance."

Owen's terrifying pace

Liverpool striker Michael Owen, chosen to start in place of Teddy Sheringham, said the team were already gearing up for Tuesday.

Owen, 18, terrified Colombia with his pace but missed several good chances.

He said: "I should have scored because I expect to when I go through on goal.

"The good thing is that we were already two up and it was plain sailing. Hopefully, I'm saving one up for Argentina."

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