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Soccer Aid 2023

If someone had said twenty years ago that Hernan Crespo and Francesco Totti would be taking on Paul Scholes and Gary Neville at Old Trafford you'd think it was a Champions League semi-final. But Soccer Aid 2023 was, in many ways, even more entertaining than this year's Champions League semi-finals.

The World XI continued their dominant streak with a 4 - 2 win at Old Trafford against England in another brilliant, hilarious and meaningful edition of Soccer Aid.

Singers, athletes, comedians, internet personalities and television presenters joined the ex-professional footballers in Manchester, raising almost £15 million for Unicef. Ambassadors (and players) Tom Hiddlestone and Usain Bolt highlighted the good the donations can do, helping children in countries such as Bangladesh, Ukraine and Malawi.

Usain Bolt, captain of the World XI team, made a big contribution to the match itself, scoring the only goal of the first half. The fastest man in the world ran (jogged really) past Bugzy Malone and one of his Manchester United heroes Gary Neville before slotting the ball calmly past David James in the England goal.

Before the second half got underway, Unicef ambassador Tom Hiddlestone delivered a heartwarming speech about the brilliant work the charity does, showing the impact Soccer Aid can have. That was followed by Tom Grennan, England's right-winger, delivering an excellent half-time song before going back out for the second half!

As is always the case in the second half, pro goalkeepers are brought off for celebrity keepers to make the game a little crazier! Wrexham goalkeeper Ben Foster and former England shot-stopper David James were replaced by UFC legend Leon Edwards and British fan favourite Paddy McGuinness at the break, making for a goal fest at Old Trafford.

England completed a quick turnaround at the start of the second half, with actor Asa Butterfield's attempted cross ending up beating Edwards at his near post. Just three minutes later, Paul Scholes celebrated his return to Old Trafford by drilling home a classic Scholes goal from 20 yards, putting England 2 - 1 up, at which point Butterfield was still celebrating madly.

The World XI hit back quickly though, with substitute Robbie Keane curling in what was possibly the best goal in Soccer Aid history, clipping in a stunning goal off the corner of post and bar.

The former Liverpool striker added a second just a few minutes later after a fantastic goal-line block from Gary Cahill fell kindly to him.

England put up a good fight in trying to get themselves level again, with Jack Wilshere sending a free-kick wide and Leon Edwards making two good saves. At the other end, Keane almost had his hat-trick, but was denied by a stunning goal-line clearance from left-back Sir Mo Farah!

The World XI did land the final blow however, with former Dancing on Ice and Love Island contestant Kem Cetinay breaking away from Sir Mo before firing past McGuinness to become the all-time record goalscorer at Soccer Aid.

It was a fitting end to another fantastic edition of the best charity football match of the season.

It was full of laughs but also delivered the message of just how important it is to support children who aren't as fortunate as others. Unicef once again did a brilliant job putting on the game, as did every single one of the players who made it special.

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