Usain Bolt Named Man of Match as England Beat World XI at Soccer Aid 2018

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJune 10, 2018

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JUNE 10:  Usain Bolt, Myles Stephenson and Wes Brown compete for possession during Soccer Aid for Unicef 2018 at Old Trafford on June 10, 2018 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Usain Bolt captained a World XI selection of stars to a 4-3 penalty shootout defeat against England in Soccer Aid 2018 on Sunday after the teams drew 3-3 in an entertaining charity match at Old Trafford.

Darren Bent opened the scoring for England before freestyle footballer Jeremy Lynch doubled their lead. The visitors thundered back, however, and led after goals by Robbie Keane, Juan Sebastian Veron and Clarence Seedorf—until Michael Owen equalised with only minutes left.

Bolt converted his penalty in the shootout, but actor Blake Harrison snatched victory from the Jamaican after substitute goalkeeper David Harewood made two saves for England.

Eight-time Olympic gold medal winner Bolt failed to get on the scoresheet and fluffed a few good opportunities to do so at the venue of his favourite club, Manchester United.

The charity match, the brainchild of former Take That singer Robbie Williams, returned after its usual two-year break and raised money on behalf of UNICEF, having drawn in donations of £24 million prior to Sunday's match, per the official website.

The atmosphere was electric from start to finish for the thrilling encounter, with Bolt showing off his sporting exploits:

The charity game featured big names both from inside football and the wider celebrity community, with Yaya Toure in midfield for the guests just weeks after leaving Manchester City and United legend Eric Cantona appearing for the final 20 minutes.

Ex-England cricket stars Freddie Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen were in the hosts' squad, captained by singer Olly Murs and managed by one-time Three Lions boss Sam Allardyce.

For all the celebrity talent in England's lineup, they required a professional touch to poke their noses in front:

Murs is still to score in five Soccer Aid appearances, but former Premier League midfielder Jody Morris was left in awe by his ball to set Bent up for the breakthrough:

England got off to a blistering start, and again a celebrity laid the foundations for their second of the evening. Former The Only Way Is Essex star Mark Wright swung in an inch-perfect cross for F2 freestyler Lynch, who volleyed home free of pressure.

Football writer Hesham Bilal-Hafiz suggested United's current stars might learn something from the crossing skills of Wright:

Bolt's speed worked against him at times, as he was too quick to get ahead of his marker before he tucked away a smartly volleyed finish in the 28th minute, which was rightly pulled back for offside. He was also denied a sumptuous chip over David Seaman that appeared to have crossed the line.

The ex-pros were the only stars who hit the mark for the World XI, and Keane showcased his old poacher prowess when he bundled home their first from close range.

Next came Veron's chance to impress Old Trafford again, 15 years after the midfielder left United, and he hooked in from a difficult angle to level just before half-time:

There was a particularly intriguing battle of Olympians emerging between marathon legend Mo Farah and sprint king Bolt, and it was shocking to see who was winning the speed battle:

Patrick Kluivert and Robert Pires came on for World XI at the break, while Jamie Redknapp was introduced into England's midfield.

The stars in attendance offered plenty of entertainment, but Williams' old Take That bandmate Gary Barlow offered a reminder of what the evening was all about:

The second half wasn't as replete with goals, but former Netherlands team-mates Kluivert and Seedorf combined with great calm just before the hour mark, with the latter slotting in low to the bottom-right corner.

The World XI led for the first time in the match but couldn't hold on. Redknapp's deflected long-range effort beat ex-Red Devils star Edwin van der Sar and thwacked off his right post as Owen hoovered up the rebound with his left foot:

That was enough to force penalties, and celebrity chef Joe Wicks and Flintoff responded to early Bolt and Ashley Fongho spot-kicks. That was before English actor Harewood stepped up to save high and well from South Africa-born Pietersen and Irish singer Nicky Byrne in succession.

Comedians Paddy McGuinness and Lee Mack had attempts saved and blasted wide, respectively, and Harrison stepped up to seal England's second successive Soccer Aid triumph.

A crowd of more than 71,000 were in attendance, and Bolt's touch of dazzle in attack was just one highlight in a wholly entertaining duel.

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