Experimental England Draw Well With Ecuador

[Richard Heathcote]

Ecuador 2-2 England

Against a full strength Ecuador side, England went behind, then led but only drew thanks to a Christian Arroyo blinder. As the match ended 2-2, news came in that Italy’s final pre-tournament friendly versus Luxembourg had ended 1-1.

England had won the first corner within the first minute and won another within the next two. They had six chances in the first eight minutes, but as Ecuador countered, a brilliant Ayovi cross was lashed into the net off the head of the midfielder Enner Valencia. Despite England’s early authority, a simple cross and simple finish had put them behind.

It seemed as if every loss of position would be punished; for both sides. After more chances for both sides, it was The Three Lions’ turn to turn on the pressure. They equalised through an old-fashioned goal-line scramble. Rickie Lambert flicked the ballonto the post before Wayne Rooney, the only man to retain his place from the Peru match, passed the ball into the net for his thirty-ninth England strike. The half ended and both sides had done well to stay in the game.

England started attacking right from the off. As England won the ball in the fiftieth minute, Ross Barkley turned a defender before sticking the ball through his legs. He ran with the ball for a while before faking a shot. The Everton man then passed lightly to the overlapping Lambert who belted the ball into the net and past Ecuador goalkeeper                     

Māximo Banguera. Roy Hodgson’s young line-up led Ecuador in the heat of the day in Miami. As Oxlade-Chamberlain, the brightest player of all on the night, fell awkwardly, he was replaced by debutant Jon Flanagan. ‘The Ox’ will no have to be scanned and pursue special training to avoid a nightmare injury.

Michael Arroyo, brought on in the sixty-eighth minute, tied the game at 2-2 with twenty minutes to go. He picked up the ball outside the box, turned away from Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, before lashing it up into the roof of the net past a desperate Ben Foster in the England net.

The final talking point was a highly debatable double dismissal. Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling tracked back to slide in dangerously on Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia. Sterling got a piece of the ball, but had made a rash challenge. Valencia, desperate to make an impact in what is likely to be his only World Cup, reacted disgustingly. He shoved Jamaican-born Sterling, who simply glared at him back. Valencia then grabbed hold of his neck, but still Sterling stood strong. The referee, Jair Marrufo, seemed unsure at what to do, but brandished a red card to both players. The match ended as an honourable draw.

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