Matthew Upson enjoyed a superb start to his 2010 FIFA World Cup campaign by helping England to defeat Slovenia 1-0 in their final Group C fixture and reach the second round.

The West Ham United captain, who lined up alongside former Academy schoolboy John Terry, was rock solid on his first appearance in South Africa.

Upson was preferred to Tottenham Hotspur's Michael Dawson due to the absence of Ledley King and Jamie Carragher through injury and suspension respectively, and the Hammers defender did not let his country down at all.

Indeed, in the final minute of the 90, it was the 31-year-old who was in exactly the right place to deny Zlatko Dedic with an inch-perfect sliding challenge.

Upson maintained his perfect record when he has partnered the Chelsea man at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth - just as they did in defeating Slovenia 2-1 in a friendly at Wembley in September 2009.

Upson, who caught the attention of many before kick-off with his passionate singing of the national anthem, stood firm throughout the contest, making a number of important blocks and getting forward to good effect.

It was another player with Hammers connections in Jermain Defoe, who spent five seasons at the Boleyn Ground between 1999 and 2004, who netted the all-important match-winner.

The striker was in the right place to divert James Milner's right-wing cross through the arms of goalkeeper Samir Handanovic on 22 minutes.

Matthew Upson

Fabio Capello's side had plenty of chances to add to their lead either side of half-time but, somehow, the scoreline remained 1-0 in England's favour.

Before the break, Handanovic did well to keep out efforts from Academy graduate Lampard, Defoe, Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard.

Later, Rooney and Terry were both denied by outstanding saves from Handanovic - the former seeing his shot deflected on to the post - during an increasingly frantic second half.

Slovenia had their chances, too, with Terry and yet another Academy graduate, Glen Johnson, making vital blocks to keep out efforts from Andraz Kirm and Zlatko Dedic before Valter Birsa fired narrowly wide of David James's goal.

As time ran down a seventh player with West Ham connections - and a fifth to have spent time within the club's famous Academy - was sent into the action in the shape of substitute Joe Cole.

Following a nail-biting second half, England recovered from their disappointing draws with the United States and Algeria to book their place in the last 16.

With the US defeating Algeria 1-0, both England and the Americans go through to the second round, with Bob Bradley's side qualifying as group winners.

The Three Lions will face Germany at the Free State Stadium in Mangaung/Bloemfontein on Sunday afternoon. Upson scored his only England goal against the Germans in a Berlin friendly back in November 2008 when Terry's late winner sealed a 2-1 away win.

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