Iraq come from behind to earn a late draw with Three Lions in World Cup opener
England 2-2 Iraq
FIFA U20 World Cup 2013
7pm (BST), Sunday 23 June
Akdeniz University Stadium, Antalya, Turkey
By Nicholas Veevers in Antalya
England got their World Cup campaign under way with a disappointing draw against Iraq after squandering a two-nil lead.
The Three Lions were cruising after an hour as strikes from Conor Coady and Luke Williams had put Peter Taylor’s side in control.
However, two goals in the last 15 minutes, including a stoppage-time equaliser, rescued a point for the Iraqis.
With Iraq fielding a physically stong line-up featuring six senior internationals, it was always going to be a real test for the Three Lions. And Iraq began the game intent on slowing and spoiling the game from the first whistle.
It was only once they’d got a late lifeline through Ali Faez’s penalty that they began to show their attacking intent and they were rewarded for that through Ali Adnan’s strike seconds before the final whistle.
It was clear from the start that Iraq had a certain game plan and three separate players had received treatment in the first ten minutes.
And with England on the front-foot in the opening stages, Ross Barkley forced captain Mohammed Hameed into a smart early save with a powerful shot from the edge of the area.
A neat move then saw Harry Kane flick the ball into the path of Luke Williams in the area after 13 minutes. His shot beat Hameed, but was cleared off the line by Ali Faez as Iraq hung on.
Iraq’s first notable attempt at goal came ten minutes before the break when Mohanad Abdulraheem flashed a shot at goal just over.
But with half time approaching, a loose pass from the Iraq midfield was latched onto by Kane who burst past the last defender only to see Hameed foil him with a fingertip save.
James Ward-Prowse floated the corner to the far post, Hameed flapped, the ball fell to Coady and the Liverpool man made no mistake by planting a firm header home.
Iraq came out after the break with renewed vigour, but it was England who added to their advantage in the 52nd minute.
And ‘keeper Sam Johnstone could take the credit too, as a stunning double-save denied two Iraq attackers to set up a breakaway.
Coady intercepted Humam Tareq’s cross before Barkley ran the ball forward and slid a pass through for Kane on the right.
His centre picked out Williams at the far post and he crashed the ball under Hameed to double the lead.
England looked to be cruising, but Iraq got a lifeline with 15 minutes to go when a long ball caught out Eric Dier and Jamaal Lascelles.
Abdulraheem raced onto it, was clipped by Johnstone and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and booking the Manchester United stopper.
Faez stepped up and gave Johnstone no chance by smashing the ball into the roof of the net. The goal visibly lifted Iraq.
England had to show their resolve, with Iraq launching the ball towards the box at every opportunity and it was in the last minute of added time when they made the breakthrough.
With Jon Flanagan down on the edge of the area, a diagonal ball to Adnan found him unmarked and after twisting his way into some space he smashed a shot past Johnstone to send Iraq and their sizeable contingent of fans wild.
It left England on the floor, but with a game against Chile to come on Wednesday they have a chance to put this blow behind them and recover.
1 Sam Johnstone, 3 Daniel Potts, 4 Jon Flanagan, 5 Eric Dier, 6 Conor Coady (c), 7 James Ward-Prowse, 9 Harry Kane, 15 Jamaal Lascelles, 17 Luke Williams (10 Chris Long, 69), 18 John Lundstram (11 Adam Reach 69), 21 Ross Barkley (2 Gael Bigirimana, 89)
Subs not used
8 Larnell Cole, 11 Adam Reach, 12 George Long, 14 John Stones, 16 Tom Thorpe, 19 Alex Pritchard, 20 Luke Garbutt.
Conor Coady (41), Luke Williams (52).
20 Mohammed Hameed (c), 3 Ali Adnan, 4 Suad Natiq (9 Mahdi Kamil, 56), 5 Ali Faez, 6 Saif Salman, 7 Jawad Kadhim (19 Farhan Shakor, 84), 8 Mohanad Abdulraheem, 11 Humam Tareq, 12 Mohammed Jabbar Arebat, 14 Mustafa Nadhim, 15 Dhurgham Ismael (17 Ammar Abdulhussein, 68)
Subs not used
2 Burhan Jumaah, 10 Mohammed Jabbar Shwkan, 13 Ali Qasim, 16 Ihab Kadhim, 18 Hozan Ismael, 21 Ali Yaseen, 1 Fahad Talib.
Ali Faez (75 pen), Ali Adnan (90+3)
Jose Luis Carmargo, Alberto Morin