Mon, Jun 09, 2014 - Page 18 News List

WORLD CUP: England emerge unscathed from bruising goalless draw

AFP, MIAMI

England’s Gary Cahill, center, heads the ball away from Carlo Costly of Honduras, right, with help from his teammate Phil Jagielka in their international friendly in Miami, Florida, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

England manager Roy Hodgson breathed a sigh of relief after his team emerged unscathed from a bruising goalless draw with Honduras in Miami on Saturday.

A match interrupted by a lightning storm also saw plenty of sparks on the pitch, with a number of full-blooded challenges that would have given Hodgson some anxious moments.

Honduras had Brayan Beckeles sent off in the 66th minute for a second bookable offense, but will take heart from a battling display and a clean sheet after losing their previous two warm-up games 4-2 to Israel and 2-0 to Turkey.

England created several openings, but failed to take advantage, with Daniel Sturridge the main culprit. However, Hodgson was looking forward to getting down to the main business at hand.

“It’s time for the real thing now. Everyone is fit, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is making progress and I think he will make the tournament,” Hodgson said of the injured Arsenal midfielder. “Honduras were quite physical and it was one of the most frustrating games I have been involved in for a long time.”

“I thought the tempo of our play and effort to score in the second half was commendable. I will take the draw and take the fact we got away without any injuries. We go to Brazil in the right frame of mind,” he said.

Wayne Rooney made his third straight start for England, making him the only member of Roy Hodgson’s squad to play in all three World Cup warm-ups.

The Manchester United forward was again asked to play on the left flank and it was Rooney who produced the first effort on goal with a curling free-kick in the 14th minute which Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladrares spilled.

Rooney then sparked another England opportunity when, on the edge of the penalty area, he fed Danny Welbeck, who dummied the ball, allowing it to run into the path of Sturridge, who should have done better than drag a left-foot shot wide of the post.

Sturridge’s Liverpool teammate Raheem Sterling was missing after picking up a red card in the 2-2 draw against Ecuador on Wednesday last week and Honduras’ Emilio Izaguirre was fortunate to avoid a similar punishment after he drove the ball into Sturridge’s midrift while he lay on the ground.

There was a surprise when referee Ricardo Salazar of the US halted the game in the 23rd minute and ordered the teams from the pitch due to a lightning warning.

The teams were off the field for 43 minutes while the lightning passed the area and after the break Honduras picked up the tempo better.

Rooney made way for Ross Barkley at halftime, with Jack Wilshere taking the place of Steven Gerrard in the center of midfield.

Barkley quickly made an impact with a snap-shot that flashed wide just two minutes after the restart and he seemed to give England some instant creative impetus.

Honduras were reduced to 10 men in the 65th minute when Beckeles was given a second yellow card after he recklessly caught Leighton Baines with an arm to the head as he flew in to a challenge for a header.

Sturridge wasted another chance when his header from a nicely delivered Glen Johnson cross was badly off target.

England start their Group D campaign against Italy in Manaus on Saturday.

Honduras have a tough start against France in Group E, before tackling Ecuador and Switzerland, and coach Luis Fernando Suarez said they would take heart from the draw.

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