There were no dazzling free kicks, but David Beckham did score from the penalty spot as the LA Galaxy beat the Wellington Phoenix 4-1 in an exhibition football match at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
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Beckham was the provider of the Galaxy's first goal, launching a pin-point 50m pass that set up striker Clint Mathis to score in the 16th minute, and topped off the scoring with a 77th minute penalty after striker Carlos Pavon was brought in the box by defender Steven Old.
Beckham, who played all 90 minutes, showed the odd bit of class as the match progressed with some deft touches and masterful long-range passing as the Galaxy won in a canter.
After Phoenix skipper Ross Aloisi had set the 31,853-strong crowd, eclipsing the 1981 All Whites-Kuwait World Cup qualifier as a record for any football match in New Zealand, alight with an eighth minute strike from close range, the Galaxy took over dominance of the match.
Mathis' equaliser and a second goal just before halftime, to star forward Landon Donovan, who took full advantage of some keystone cops defending after Karl Dodd and Kristian Rees tackled each other, gave the Major League Soccer team a 2-1 halftime lead.
They made it 3-1 early in the second half, an incisive but rare midfield run by Beckham ending in a simple tap-in by Pavon, with the Phoenix's wafer thin back three opened up yet again, before Beckham brought the house down with his penalty, which never looked like missing.
There was some niggle in the first half, with the players clashing several times and Beckham - much to the crowd's pleasure - blew up at referee Michael Hester after being adjudged to have fouled Felipe in the 19th minute.
Both teams made several changes in the second half and the match opened up, but the Phoenix, backing up from Friday night's 2-1 A-League loss to Adelaide United, were true to recent form and couldn't find the back of the net.
Their poor form in front of goal was summed up by bench player Royce Brownlie failing to hit the target from six yards with the goal wide open.
- The Dominion Post
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