Goals to fringe Jets strikers Sasho Petrovski and Labinot Haliti in front of 23,317 fans saw the Jets continue their encouraging form in the friendly match after US star Landon Donovan had put the Galaxy up early.
England superstar Beckham showed glimpses of his class but was clearly hampered by a pre-existing back problem, however pushed on to play a full 90 minutes on a patchy EnergyAustralia Stadium pitch. “I normally wouldn’t have played but I think when a game like this comes up you want to play,” Beckham said. “Tonight was tough obviously, getting myself fit for it. “I haven’t trained since our last game but aside from the back pain, I enjoyed the game … the majority of time I was pain free.” After thrilling a sold-out ANZ Stadium with a trademark free kick in a 5-3 loss to Sydney FC in 2007, Beckham almost repeated the dose with a powerful shot on the stroke of halftime that sailed just across the face of goal. He also came close with an audacious chip in the dying stages of the match but it looked like it wasn’t going to be his night when he sent a curling free kick well over the bar after four minutes. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star stayed on the pitch after the match to thank the appreciative fans and said he would love to come back to notch an elusive win over Australian opposition. “Maybe third time lucky,” said Beckham. “It’s obviously disappointing to lose tonight, but we’ll be back.” It was Beckham who kick-started the move that led to Donovan’s opener. His pass found striker Edson Buddle, who combined with Chris Birchall before Sean Franklin whipped in a dangerous cross. Jets defender Taylor Regan and inexperienced goalkeeper Matthew Nash both missed the ball in a clumsy mix-up, allowing Donovan the easiest of finishes. The Jets almost equalised in the 14th minute when Petrovski forced a good save out of Donovan Ricketts but he made amends when cleverly side-footing home an Ali Abbas cross in the 39th minute. Both coaches made several changes at halftime, and it was substitute Haliti who put the Jets ahead in the 52nd minute when he beat off AJ Delagarza to claim a Wehrman long ball and hammer a shot into the back of the net. Jets coach Branko Culina said the effort of his injury-depleted team had done Australian football proud and hoped the occasion would continue his club’s renaissance under new owner Nathan Tinkler. “It was great to see a tremendous crowd here and hopefully many of them will come back, would have enjoyed what they saw and will come back and support the team again,” he said. Beckham knocked back several Jets players to hand his match shirt to a female fan who sported a banner that read: “Bend me Beckham.”