ENGLAND 0, HONDURAS 0 (FRIENDLY AT MIAMI SUN LIFE STADIUM)
England deserved a victory on the Duckworth-Lewis method against a very physical Honduras side, who lost Brayan Beckeles to a second yellow card after 65 minutes, but they failed to capitalise on their man advantage despite having a number of fresh players on the pitch in the second half.
Despite this, a number of chances were carved out by England who had reduced but not eliminated defensive mistakes from their game but failed to take their chances. A majority of them fell to leading striker Daniel Sturridge but the Liverpool striker failed to convert them while Adam Lallana similarly spurned chances of his own.
Had Raheem Sterling been available England might have had the pace to open up the space against ten men and this is something that Rod Hodgson will take into consideration while planning the approach against Italy next week.
Sterling might not have been needed had England taken their chances, though, and there were some good moments for England with Lallana and Barkley’s movement and Wilshere’s passing giving England some additional options in the final third even though there was to be no winning goal from those.
The final friendly game in the Miami Sun Life Stadium appeared to be in danger of becoming a wash-out when the game was halted for over 40 minutes due to thunder and lightning in the 23rd minute of the game.
The interruption disrupted the England game plan and served to illustrate the Honduran’s physical approach with fouls and tackles flying in all over the pitch.
Hodgson made ten changes to the side that drew with Ecuador last Wednesday, with only Wayne Rooney retaining his place in the side, for England’s last match before the World Cup.
It was the same side that started against Peru at Wembley eight days ago but England were unable to select the suspended Raheem Sterling who was sent off against Ecuador plus Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who sustained medial knee ligament damage during that game.
Sterling would have started the game but for his suspension, Danny Welbeck needed to put in a good shift to convince the England manager that he would be worth a start against Italy. In the end, Welbeck was as reliable as usual but Hodgson will regret that England missed the pace that Sterling would have provided to open up Honduras.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the England’s game against Italy in Manaus but Roy Hodgson has opted to retain the Arsenal midfielder in the squad despite the medial knee ligament injury he sustained in the 2-2 draw against Ecuador on Wednesday.
Standby players Jon Flanagan and John Stones, of Liverpool and Everton respectively, were sent home to England after the game. Hodgson can still call on any of the full complement of standby players including Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley or Michael Carrick if needed but Hodgson claimed after the Honduras match that Oxlade-Chamberlain would be ok.
STIFLING HEAT WITH THUNDER IN THE AIR, 40 MINUTE BREAK
It’s unlikely that England will get a 40 minute break in Manaus due to thunder and lightning, but that’s precisely what they got at the Sun Life Stadium after the extreme humidity finally gave way to an electrical storm which prompted the referee to take the players off during the first half for their own safety.
They returned over 40 minutes later after the storm blew itself out but mistakes had crept into England’s play along with a series of tough tackles from the Hondurans.
“Due to inclement weather, with associated lightning, please feel free to exit the seating bowl and move to the inner concourse.” said a sign inside the stadium.
Joe Hart (6) wasn’t really tested, but Phil Jagielka (7) and Gary Cahill (8) were a reliable presence at the back, Leighton Baines (7) was also solid but was targetted for some physical abuse by Honduras players but Glen Johnson (6) had another average game at full back and didn’t offer much going forward.
Jordan Henderson 7 and Steve Gerrard 7: Henderson looks to have earned his starting lineup, he was well involved for England and will do a lot of the running for his Liverpool and England captain Gerrard.
Adam Lallana 7: Another solid start but lost the ball after the rain break to afford a chance for Honduras. Regained composure and stayed forward looking to strike a deflected shot that went out for a corner. Had a ball arrive under his feet which he failed to get under control for a shot and had the ball saved from under him when chasing down a loose ball in the box late on.
Danny Welbeck 7: Good early strike to test Noel Valladares in the Honduras goal, got a Gerrard pass caught under his feet when in front of goal. Good movement up front to give Roy Hodgson food for though with his stated plan to start Raheem Sterling tonight before he got sent off against Ecuador. Also helped out Leighton Baines at left back with defensive cover at times.
Wayne Rooney 7: Early long range free kick was spilled by Valladares. Will have appreciated the match practice but laboured in the Miami heat although he did provide a superb cross which Daniel Sturridge really should have converted.
Daniel Sturridge 6: Dragged a shot wide with just Valladares to beat after Danny Welbeck dummied Rooney’s cross. Took a knock after the thunderstorm restart and hobbled for a while. Kept his cool after taking a ball kicked into his midriff at point blank range by Celtic full back Emilio Izaguirre while still grounded after bring fouled by the Celtic full back. Confident enough to try difficult shots but was wasteful when presented with a handful of good chances.
Jack Wilshere (7) for Steven Gerrard
Decent forward thinking moves, looked more confident this time and threaded some decent passes in the second half.
Ross Barkley (7) for Wayne Rooney
Keen to get involved but lost it shortly after the restart and was rescued by a defensive interception. Curled a shot just wide soon after. Influence faded as players around him tired.
Fraser Forster (6) for Joe Hart
Rickie Lambert (6) for Danny Welbeck
Frank Lampard (6) for Jordan Henderson