England head home after draw
Friday, 02 October, 2009
World Cup over as England can only level late against Uzbekistan
Nicholas Veevers in Suez
England missed out on a place in the second stage of the FIFA U20 World Cup, but were able to celebrate their first goal in the competition for 12 years.
Brian Eastick's side required a handsome victory to progress, but when Uzbekistan took the lead with just 13 minutes left, their chances were over. However, Manchester City's Alex Nimely grabbed a late equaliser, and whilst it may not have been enough to qualify, it marked England's first goal in this competition since a Jamie Carragher strike in 1997.
And a draw was probably the right result, as both sides missed out on a place in the next round with Ghana and Uruguay heading through from Group D after their 2-2 draw in Ismailia.
It was a fairly even opening ten minutes to the game, with England just shading it in terms of possession and territory. It was also the Young Lions who came closest to opening the scoring when Nimely picked up a loose ball following a scramble in the area, but saw his low shot fly just wide of the post in the 12th minute.
Paul Marshall then tried his luck with a free-kick in the 15th minute, but it was narrowly off target as England looked to strike ahead.
Uzbekistan had a dangerous looking weapon in the long throws of Murod Khalmukhamedov, though, and one of them almost led to a strike on goal in the 27th minute when the ball fell to Davron Mirzaev in the area, but his shot was bravely blocked and England scrambled clear.
England almost had the breakthrough on the half hour mark, when Kieran Trippier’s ball into the box was just too high for Martin Kelly and Uzbekistan then managed to clear away from Marshall, who was next in line to get on the end of it.
Nimely then latched onto a slide rule pass from Manchester City colleague Adam Clayton to break clear down the right, but his driven centre was cut out by goalkeeper Sanjar Kuvvatov just ahead of the inrushing Febian Brandy.
At the other end, a neat move through midfield from Uzbekistan came to nothing as half time approached, with captain Sunnatilla Mamadaliyev shooting well over from 30 yards.
Parish was a little busier three minutes later though, as he had to palm Oybek Kilichev’s pacy free-kick from the left behind for a corner.
England made one change at the break, with Jordan Parkes coming on to replace Matthew Briggs at left-back and the game continued in a similar vein to the first half with the Young Lions on the attack. Brandy tried his luck in the 48th minute, but his low shot from the edge of the area skidded wide of the post.
Matthew James then picked out Trippier in an advanced position on the right and his first time cross looked dangerous only for giant defender Islom Tuhtahujaev to get a foot in first and further frustrate England.
Just after the hour mark, Kelly overlapped well on the right and delivered a good cross for Nimely, but his looping header was saved somewhat spectacularly by Kuvvatov, perhaps for the cameras or to liven up the crowd.
With just over ten minutes to play, disaster struck for England. Ben Mee, who had been imperious in defence all night, was dispossessed on the half way line and when substitute Kenja Turaev took the ball, he slipped fellow replacement Ivan Nagaev through. He made no mistake and slid a low shot past Parish to open the scoring.
It was so nearly 2-0 in the 81st minute too as Nagaev curled a shot from the edge of the area which looked destined for the top corner but thankfully Parish made a fine save to tip it over the bar.
But moments before the end, Nimely broke the 12-year record, latching on to Parkes' throughball and Sam Baldock's flick before smashing inside the post with his left foot to level for England.
And Eastick's boys almost snatched it at the death. A corner was knocked in with white shirts, and a green keeper's jersey filling the box. Goalkeeper Parish was quickest to react, and with just a glimpse at goal he fired goalwards, but his effort deflected off target as both sides saw their chances of glory slip away.