ENGLAND 2, ECUADOR 2 (FRIENDLY AT MIAMI SUN LIFE STADIUM)
In the energy sapping Miami heat, England got a good work out against Ecuador in their penultimate World Cup warm-up match but were far from convincing with their makeshift side as both teams finished with ten men.
Enner Valencia opened the scoring after just eight minutes to jolt England into life. Wayne Rooney levelled the scores after 29 minutes while Rickie Lambert put England in front after 51 minutes.
Ecuador could have capitalised for a second time on poor England defending in the second half when Valencia hit the post when he should have scored to make it 2-2. They did make it 2-2 minutes later when Michael Arroyo sidestepped James Milner and Jack Wilshere and sent in a shot that beat Ben Foster in the 70th minute.
Antonio Valencia and Raheem Sterling were both sent off in the 79th minute after the Liverpool winger slid in recklessly on the Manchester United man. Valencia, fearing for his World Cup participation, snapped and raised his hand towards Sterling angrily in the aftermath of the challenge but the referee had seen enough and produced his red card for both of them.
Thankfully, neither player will face a suspension for competitive games during the World Cup but Hodgson will know that England can’t afford to toil in the Manaus heat against Italy while a goal down or a man down.
Sterling might not miss any World Cup games but he will certainly miss out on England’s last warm-up game against Honduras on Saturday at the Sun Life Stadium thanks to his sending off.
England had been relatively injury free in the build-up to the tournament but late injuries to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere will bring back familiar worries to England’s back room staff and long suffering fans but manager Roy Hodgson knows that defensive frailty and recklessness needs to be sorted out before England’s World Cup campaign starts a week on Saturday.
UPDATE: England manager Roy Hodgson has admitted that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s knee injury could be serious. The Arsenal midfielder will have a scan tomorrow. He said:
“We have our fears there might be some ligament damage.”
ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS AGAINST ECUADOR
BEN FOSTER 6
Ben Foster had little to do before picking the ball out of his own net after just eight minutes. He was affected by a rush of blood later in the first half after England lost possession in midfield. He rushed out to meet the ball and could have been punished if Ecuador’s goal scorer Enner Valencia had retained his composure. Finally was beaten by another long range effort by Michael Arroyo in the second half.
FRANK LAMPARD 6
Frank Lampard still has class and vision, taking on the Ecuador ‘keeper with a long range shot to break up the predictable short passes by England, but he doesn’t provide the shield for the back four that Steven Gerrard does.
CHRIS SMALLING 6, PHIL JONES 6
Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka don’t have anything to worry about after Chris Smalling’s uncertain attempt to clear a regulation ball into the box and the far from confident performance of his United defensive partner Phil Jones. Enner Valencia, no relation to United’s Antonio, found space between Smalling and potential future United team mate Luke Shaw to head Walter Ayovi’s left wing cross past Ben Foster.
ALEX OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN 8
Oxlade-Chamberlain has reminded Roy Hodgson that he’s fit and available again. A driving performance from his wide midfield berth, the Ox provided plenty for the Ecuadorians to think about and improved after the break as the Ecuadorians tired. Went off with a possible injury after being clattered by Carlos Gruezo after robbing him. Jon Flanagan made his international debut after Oxlade-Chamberlain was taken off which in turn allowed James Milner back into midfield.
WAYNE ROONEY 7
Wayne Rooney still has a goal poaching instinct. Coming in off a left wing berth, Rooney was intent on proving his worth to Hodgson. He duly did after 29 minutes by scoring his 39th England goal – his first in four games for England. Rooney poked in the loose ball after Rickie Lambert’s clever backheel had come off the post. There may have been a suspicion of handball by Lambert but the goal stood. Rooney was stretching to reach Shaw’s cross later in the first half to try and put England in to the lead and also tested Ecuador ‘keeper Maximo Banguera with a long range shot. Faded in the second half and was replaced by Raheem Sterling.
JAMES MILNER 6
James Milner did a decent enough job at full back but was better when he attempted to join in with the attack, on one occasion putting Oxlade-Chamberlain through. Failed to close down Michael Arroyo for the Ecuadorian equaliser. Glen Johnson, despite his faults, won’t be too worried but depending on England’s next match against Honduras it might not be too much of a stretch to imagine Milner starting on the right side of midfield against Italy.
ROSS BARKLEY 7, RICKIE LAMBERT 7
Some good touches from Ross Barkley, who did very well playing off the front man. He embarked on a mazy run past several static Ecuadorians and unselfishly laid off the ball for Rickie Lambert to thunder home his third goal in five England Internationals. Barkley looked very impressive, as did Lambert. Both players are still likely to be impact subs from the bench during the tournament though.
JACK WILSHERE 6
Failed to close down substitute Michael Arroyo’s shimmy to make space for a shot which beat Foster.
LUKE SHAW 6
Some good touches and crosses from a role in a makeshift back four but Leighton Baines won’t be too worried. Was replaced by John Stones.