ctfc.com World Cup reporter Tom Blackburn reports on an eventful draw in Miami.
A weakened England side stuttered to a 2-2 draw with Ecuador as they continued their preparation for their World Cup campaign which begins in 10 days.
Wayne Rooney and Rickie Lambert scored the goals for England, who in truth played a second string team. Despite looking dangerous going forward, the Ecuadorian attack found it far too easy against an overhauled England defence.
However the match was marred by the sending off of Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling and Antonio Valencia, subsequent to an unfortunate altercation over Sterling’s reckless tackle.
Ecuador forward Enner Valencia opened the scoring in the 8th minute following a promising England start that could have seen them take the lead. Valencia headed powerfully past Ben Foster in the England goal from a Walter Ayoyi cross that Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw failed to deal with.
England struggled to build momentum after that, with passes going astray and poor communication, nonetheless in the 29th minute Rooney was handed a slice of luck and only had to tap the ball into the net to add to his international tally. The striker finished off a move that saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain make his way in to the Ecuador box and send a cross towards Lambert whose scrappy efforts eventually found Rooney’s feet for his 39th England goal.
The conditions in Miami were difficult, with humidity reaching 70 percent, but England were keen to practice in environments that they will have to deal with in Brazil.
England took the lead six minutes into the second half through a powerful Lambert strike. Ross Barkley picked up the ball before an eloquent turn and run, which ended with him sending the ball to Lambert who struck the ball with the outside of his boot past Ecuador keeper Maximo Banguera.
The game didn’t improve after that for England, who conceded to an excellent Michael Arroyo equaliser from 25 yards in the 70th minute that Foster had no chance of saving.
The game turned sour as the match approached the last 10 minutes, when Manchester United winger Valencia reacted furiously to a rash Sterling tackle, by grabbing his neck. The pair were dismissed though Sterling may have good reason to feel hard done by. Roy Hodgson will be warning his players not to risk being sent-off with tackles on the main stage in Brazil.
By picking a weakened side Hodgson gave a number of players the opportunity to push their case for a starting spot against Italy on the 14th June. Though, with the possible exception of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Barkley, none of the starting line-up particularly impressed.
James Milner was played in the unusual position of right-back, but struggled to have any impact and Glen Johnson will be confident of reclaiming the spot. Whilst the centre-back pairing of Smalling and Phil Jones looked frail in comparison to regular pair Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka.
England remain in Miami for one more match against Honduras on Saturday, and will hope continue their preparations with an improved performance before flying to Brazil in the hope of World Cup glory.
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