David Beckham overcame an injury scare to score from a trademark free-kick as Los Angeles Galaxy were beaten 5-3 by Hyundai A-League side Sydney FC at the Telstra Stadium.
The former England captain’s left ankle collapsed under his body in the 28th minute before Sydney midfielder Brendon Santalab slid into him after losing his footing in the greasy conditions.
Beckham received attention for around a minute before hobbling back into the fray and recovering to find the net from around 25 yards just before half-time, to rapturous applause from the 80,295 crowd.
Sydney led 3-0 at the time through goals to Alex Brosque (two) and Ruben Zadkovich.
Beckham, who played the full 90 minutes, and Edson Buddle replied for the Galaxy before Robbie Middleby added a fourth for Sydney FC and Iain Fyfe rounded off the hosts’ scoring three minutes from time.
Landon Donovan scored a consolation goal for the Galaxy at the death but the Major League Soccer outfit finished the game with 10 men after Kevin Harmse was sent off for a 77th-minute foul.
Speaking after the game, Beckham revealed he feared he had severely damaged his ankle.
He said: “I was worried at first because I felt as if I’d twisted my ankle again and done the same thing injury I had on the last game of the season with Real Madrid.
“It wasn’t as bad – it just caught under the guy that slid in. It’s all part of the game. It’s fine.”
Asked why he refused to leave the field, Beckham said: “I always try to stay on whether I’m injured or get kicked in games.
“It’s part of the game and I’m quite a stubborn person and when I want to play and when I want to stay on there’s not many people who can convince me to come off.
“I was happy to stay on the whole game. I wanted to play.
“So many fans turn out and they expect you to perform and to be out there for as much time as possible.”
Galaxy coach Ruud Gullit admitted he briefly thought about replacing the former England captain but was glad he left him on.
“He didn’t have any injury, he had a knock, that can happen,” Gullit explained.
“But it was tempting (to take him off).
“I had a lot of difficulties with my own substitutions – I didn’t have many players here – so he couldn’t be (replaced).
“Also I had a feeling that he liked the game. It’s an environment every player wants to play, 80,000 people.”
“He knows also his responsibility to come here. He wanted to make that effort.”
“He wants to win, he wants to perform.”
Speaking of Beckham’s performance, the former Newcastle and Chelsea coach said: “I am happy with the effort of David. He played really well.”
“He scored a marvellous goal, so the crowd got what it wanted.
“I am very happy with his performance.”