England's first meeting with Ireland in 18 years ends in a 1-1 draw
England 1-1 Republic of Ireland
8pm, Wednesday 29 May 2013
England signed off their season at Wembley Stadium with another 1-1 draw against Republic of Ireland as the nations met for the first time in 18 years.
Ashley Cole took centre stage for Roy Hodgson’s men, wearing the captain’s armband after receiving his commemorative cap in celebration of becoming England’s seventh centurion.
But it was his Chelsea team mate Frank Lampard who ensured England fly on to Brazil on the back of a draw, netting the equaliser after Shane Long had headed Giovanni Trapattoni’s men in front.
Ireland, making their first appearance at Wembley Stadium in 22 years, sent their fans home delighted after extending their unbeaten run against the Three Lions to six games.
And while England may have slightly edged the contest on chances, the visitors were certainly good for the draw and will face three more games in the next two weeks, including an important World Cup qualifier, full of confidence.
Meanwhile England head straight to Rio to face a side they beat at Wembley in their last home game, and that will offer an altogether different test.
With just 13 minutes played of this one, Long had sent the Irish corner of Wembley into raptures glancing beyond Joe Hart.
It came from Seamus Coleman’s right-hand cross, and the West Brom man rose above Glen Johnson and Gary Cahill, looping a header over the keeper’s despairing dive.
England were struggling to find any immediate response, despite the possession in the Ireland half. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s hopeful shot from 25 yards was lacking any real conviction as it rose high into the crowd.
However, Ireland’s lead lasted just ten minutes as Daniel Sturridge provided the spark the Three Lions so dearly needed, as the away fans were raising the volume and spurring their side on.
Coming into the area from the left, the on-form Liverpool hitman fed in a cross to the middle which squeezed between Sean St. Ledger and Glenn Whelan and dropped kindly for Lampard ten yards out.
The man who recently surpassed the Chelsea scoring record gobbled the chance up with ease, flicking past David Forde and into the grateful net for his 29th goal in his 96th appearance for his country.
Hodgson was dealt a serious blow just after the half-hour mark when Sturridge limped off the pitch after a challenge with Whelan and was replaced by Jermain Defoe.
While both sides enjoyed forays forward, neither side dominated.
Chamberlain had another chance for England, this time he hit the target but never troubled Forde, while at the other end McGeady took the ball from Frank Lampard on the half-way line before fashioning a shot at goal. Hart had it covered, though, as it carried away for a goal-kick.
With the half-time whistle approaching, the Three Lions picked up the pace and were unlucky not to see Johnson’s cross from the right bear fruit. With Chamberlain hurtling into six-yard box, Forde was well-placed at the near post to gather.
No sooner had the second half began and England found themselves in a similar situation again. Wayne Rooney clipped a ball over Ireland’s left-back Stephen Kelly to Theo Walcott arriving at speed in the area.
He guided across the face of goal where Cole was waiting for a simple tap in. But Whelan and St. Ledger this time combined to deny the skipper his first goal for his country and he left the field shortly after as Leighton Baines came into the action.
Rooney started to impose himself a little more, dropping deeper to get on the ball, chasing what seemed to be lost causes and looking to get England on top.
Meanwhile, the introduction of his Manchester United team mate Phil Jones at the break also gave the home side an added impetus at right-back as he linked up with Walcott and provided an attacking threat on the flank.
Following an England break, ignited by Defoe, Walcott then had the first of two shots at Forde’s goal, but the Millwall stopper was equal to it, pushing away low for a corner. The Arsenal forward’s next chance, cutting inside and drilling with his left, was simple for Forde to collect.
Openings were coming as Hodgson’s side searched for a winner, Chamberlain again tried one, which swerved off target.
Trapattoni’s men in green were still posing a threat, however, as the home team were unable to turn the screw. But James McCarthy’s shot and James McClean’s free-kick from range both failed to test Ben Foster.
With 12 minutes left, McClean sent in a cross from the left that did give Foster something to think about, though. After the ball took a big diversion off Jones, it looped high into the England box.
Foster went up to claim, but under pressure from his Baggies team mate Long and Stoke City’s Jon Walters, he spilled the ball to Simon Cox, who rolled into the empty net. But the Scottish referee William Collum signalled for a foul on the ‘keeper.
England twice came close to snatching a winner in the closing stages. When Walcott burst into the Ireland half and found Rooney, the United man threaded a ball into the box that delfected into the path of Chamberlain.
Forde won the duel, pushing away Chamberlain’s strike for a corner, then he saved with his feet just after when Walcott fired goalwards from 12 yards.
But, with three of the previous four encounters ending in 1-1 draws, it’s no surprise this one finished in the same way.
Joe Hart (Ben Foster, 46), Glen Johnson (Phil Jones, 46), Ashley Cole (c) (Leighton Baines, 53), Michael Carrick, Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Theo Walcott, Frank Lampard, Daniel Sturridge (Jermain Defoe, 33), Wayne Rooney, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (James Milner, 87)
Subs not used
Joleon Lescott, Jack Rodwell, Daniel Welbeck, Alex McCarthy
Frank Lampard 23
Republic of Ireland
David Forde, John O’Shea, Sean St. Ledger, Seamus Coleman, Stephen Kelly, Glenn Whelan (Jeff Hendrick, 74), James McCarthy, Aiden McGeady (James McClean, 68), Robbie Keane (c) (Simon Cox, 65), Shane Long, Jon Walters (Conor Sammon, 82)
Subs not used
Keiren Westwood, Damien Delaney, Richard Keogh, Darren O’Dea, Paul McShane, Stephen Quinn, Darren Randolph, David Meyler, Robbie Brady, Andy Keogh, Wes Hoolahan
Shane Long 13
William Collum (SCO)
Phil Thomas (WAL) and Eamonn Shanks (NIR)
Steven McLean (SCO)