ENGLAND 1, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 1.
It took a goal from the ever-dependable Frank Lampard, one of England’s old guard, to save the team from a Wembley defeat against the Republic of Ireland.
The Chelsea midfield player’s equaliser cancelled a goal from Shane Long in a friendly which was part of the Football Association’s 150th anniversary celebrations.
It was the first fixture between the nations for 18 years since the infamous Dublin meeting in 1995 which had to be abandoned because of crowd trouble.
This time it was a far less volatile affair which had an end-of-season feel as England, with Ashley Cole captaining the side in recognition for recently winning his 100th cap, lacked the spark needed to win before heading to Rio de Janeiro for Sunday’s glamour game against Brazil.
England manager Roy Hodgson explained there were more positives than negatives to take from the game.
He said: “We played well enough, especially in the second half, but give credit to Ireland because it was not an end-of-season exhibition match.
“I knew it would be a test, but it was tougher than I imagine as Ireland were firing on all cyclinders.”
“We created two or three clear chances to win the game, but they were saved by their keeper (David Forde).
“In the second half I thought we would win so I am not too disappointed and take a lot of positives from the game
England hardly made the start they wanted falling behind in the 13th minute.
Long got on to the end of a right-wing cross from Seamus Coleman and looped a header from 10 yards over keeper Joe Hart for his 10th international goal.
The equaliser came midway through the opening period with England’s first clear-cut chance of the night.
Daniel Sturridge created the opening on the left and from his cross Lampard got in-between Sean St Ledger and Glenn Whelan to stab the ball low past Forde for his 29th international goal.
England were forced to make a change in the 33rd minute when Sturridge injured his left ankle and was replaced by Jermain Defoe. It was a worry to see him leave the touchline on a stretcher.
It was proving to be a competitive match, but one of few goal attempts.
Midway through the second half, an England counter attack ended with Defoe releasing Theo Walcott whose near-post shot was turned round the post by Forde.
England had a great chance to win the game with seven minutes left but Forde pulled off a superb save to deny Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who was clean through on goal.
And not long after Forde came to the rescue again keeping out a goalbound effort from Walcott with his legs.