World Cup 2010 - Crouch double rescues England
In an evening of opportunities for players to convince Fabio Capello that they are worth a place in his World Cup squad for South Africa, it was the substitutes who distinguished themselves as England followed a turgid first half with a swaggering second.
Mohamed Zidan gave the African champions a 23rd minute lead with a sharp turn and a rasping shot to beat Robert Green, and the visitors defended stoutly to preserve their lead into the second half as the hosts toiled and ultimately disappointed.
Capello introduced Crouch as one of two half-time changes, and the Tottenham striker made his impact in the 56th minute as he rounded off a slick move to draw England level with a flourish.
Another substitute, Shaun Wright-Phillips, gave England the lead in the 76th minute after James Milner unleashed a ferocious volley which Essam El-Hadary could only parry straight to the winger, whose follow-up shot found the back of the net with the goalkeeper still reeling from the initial effort.
Crouch then grabbed his second in near-identical fashion as he stole in to convert Wright-Phillips's cross from the right, and the relief around Wembley was palpable as England assumed a two-goal cushion. It was the Spurs forward's 20th goal in 37 appearances for his country.
All the attention was inevitably on John Terry, whose name was booed as it was announced, but it was the former skipper's defensive partner Matthew Upson who slipped on the edge of the England penalty area to allow Zidan to turn and unleash a fierce shot to beat Green in the 23rd minute.
Frank Lampard was presented with the two best England chances of the first half, but the Chelsea midfielder was not able to convert either and his evening was then cut short at the break in ruthless fashion by Capello. Lampard's first chance came as Walcott surged down the right in the fifth minute, drawing two Egypt defenders with him, before he cut the ball back into Lampard's path, but El-Hadary saved sharply with his legs to keep the hosts at bay.
Ahmed Al-Muhammadi recovered superbly after being caught out of position by Jermain Defoe with a last-ditch challenge in the 14th minute as the visitors continued to confound England's new standing as the eighth-best side in the world.
Rooney headed agonisingly over the bar on the half-hour, and three minutes later Lampard squandered a second glorious opportunity as Baines's corner picked him out inside the Egypt box, but he scuffed his shot tamely at El-Hadary.
Zidan was a persistent threat as England defended with apprehension and a distinct lack of conviction, and Egypt sensed the uncertainty with some enterprising play as Emad Ebdelmaby combined with his strike partner to good effect.
Capello's dissatisfaction was thinly veiled at half-time, and the Italian promptly introduced Michael Carrick and Crouch at the expense of the ineffectual Defoe and Lampard at the break.
Rooney cut a frustrated figure in attack for England as he was effectively deprived of quality service and left isolated, but Crouch's introduction appeared to reinvigorate his team-mates and ensure that England's attacking play was considerably more fluid.
Within 10 minutes of his entrance, the Spurs striker capped a stunning move from England in which Gerrard and Barry exchanged one-touch passes before Crouch was able to tuck the ball away first time to level the scores.
Carrick's arrival was equally effective as the midfielder provided an assured presence in midfield, and it was from his Manchester United team-mate's through ball that Rooney almost grabbed England's second, but his shot slid narrowly wide of the far post.
Two substitutes combined in destructive fashion in the 75th minute as Milner's rasping volley was palmed unconvincingly to Wright-Phillips who was able to slam home the rebound, albeit with El-Hadary making a hash of his attempted save.
Crouch then capped off his fine cameo performance with his second five minutes later, as he pounced for another opportunist strike from close range after fine wing play from Wright-Phillips found the gangly striker ahead of his marker in the six-yard box, albeit with a suspicion of offside.
After a fragmented and nervy first half, Capello will have been pleased with the way his side recovered in style in the second, and it was an evening for the substitute as Crouch topped the bill of those staking their claims from the bench.