England held by USA
Saturday, 12 June, 2010
Clint Dempsey cancels out Steven Gerrard's opener in 1-1 draw.
Stuart Mawhinney in Rustenburg
England began their 2010 World Cup campaign with a 1-1 draw with USA.
Captain Steven Gerrard put his country ahead after just four minutes, latching on to Emile Heskey's through ball and prodding beyond Tim Howard with the outside of his right foot.
Fabio Capello's side looked comfortable and were arguably the better side throughout, but Clint Dempsey earned USA a point with his 40th minute goal, although Robert Green will be disappointed with his role in the equaliser. Dempsey worked himself into a yard of space just outside the box and struck a low, left-foot shot on target. Green appeared to be behind it but the West Ham man let the ball squirm for his grasp and he was unable to prevent it from crossing the line.
England were momentarily stunned but they found their composure after the break and might have gone on to win the game had their finishing been a little better. Nevertheless, Capello can be pleased with his side's attitude and level of performance in their opening World Cup match, though he will know there is room for slight improvement.
With the game barely alive England's skipper raised the roof with the opening goal.
Frank Lampard turned the ball around the corner for Heskey who played Gerrard clean through, the Liverpool midfielder showing great composure to slot the ball home with the outside of his right boot.
The start that England were dreaming of, an early goal the ideal tonic to quell the nerves.
In powerful form early on, Heskey won the exchanges with the similarly statuesque Onyewu and one of his flicks nearly led to a second goal.
Rooney pounced and fed Lennon who was free on the right flank. Despite seeming to fear being offside, the Spurs winger raced to the touchline and fired a low cross that was cleared under the posts by Bocanegra.
Bob Bradley's side were by no means out of the game, a flurry of corners threatened Rob Green's goal and Landon Donovan was a constant menace.
It was a mistake that levelled the scores before the break, Dempsey hit a low shot with his left foot and when Green failed to get a firm grip on the ball it squirmed agonisingly over the line.
Heartbreak for England just before the break, it was a bitter blow after so much promise in the early stages.
Glen Johnson almost hit back immediately for England, slaloming past three American defenders before driving with his left foot towards the bottom corner. Tim Howard was equal, and America were level at the break.
The interval saw a second change for England as Ledley King was replaced by Jamie Carragher, the Tottenham centre back suffering an injury in the first period.
Frank Lampard hit a fierce shot from distance that stung the palms of Howard and signalled an onslaught from the Three Lions.
From the resulting corner Johnson trapped the ball at the far post but his snapshot went inches wide.
Green then made a superb stop from Jozy Altidore to prevent the US taking the lead. Turning Carragher inside out, the Hull striker looked certain to score from ten yards out only for the West Ham 'keeper to spring to his right and tip the ball onto the bar.
It was a momentary chance for the team in navy blue, as England continued to pepper Tim Howard's goal. Rooney, Wright-Phillips and Heskey all going close to scoring that all important second goal.
Heskey headed over from under the posts, Wright-Phillips shot straight at Howard and Rooney saw an instinctive shot drift a yard wide with the American 'keeper scrambling to his left.
As the minutes ticked away the jubilation of the opening moments seemed an eternity ago, but, although they were unable to find a winner, England can be pleased with a 1-1 draw in their Group C opener and they can now take a point into next Friday's clash with Algeria.