David Beckham made a surprising start in his AC Milan debut yesterday, playing 89 minutes in a solid if not outstanding performance against AS Roma.

The star English midfielder was replaced by Mathieu Flamini in the 89th minute of the 2-2 game. He exited mostly to boos from the Roma crowd.

Beckham joined Milan on a two-month loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, hoping to stay sharp so he can earn a spot on the English national team.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said Saturday it would be “difficult” to start the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player because he had been inactive for two months. However, Beckham lined up in his traditional spot on the right wing, leaving Flamini and Massimo Ambrosini on the bench at the start.

• Meanwhile Manchester United beat a major rival for the first time this season, registering a 3-0 win over Chelsea yesterday that moved the defending champions to within five points of the Premier League lead.

Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov scored at Old Trafford to lift the Red Devils to 41 points, just one fewer than second-place Chelsea with two games in hand.

Also yesterday, Maynor Figueroa scored his first goal for Wigan in injury time to give his team a 1-0 win over Tottenham.

The result kept Tottenham in the relegation zone and winless in five league matches, while Wigan consolidated its hold on seventh place.