Goalkeeping blunder costs England victory over US (Lead)June 13th, 2010 - 3:46 am ICT by IANS
Rustenburg (South Africa), June 13 (DPA) England’s World Cup campaign got off to a disappointing start Saturday when they were held to a 1-1 draw by outsiders US in the opening game of Group C.
England began briskly, with captain Steven Gerrard put them ahead after just 4 minutes, but a goalkeeping blunder allowed Clint Dempsey to grab a 40th minute equalizer for the US.
Goalkeeping woes have plagued the English squad in recent years and it was no exception Saturday when manager Fabio Capello selected West Ham’s Robert Green in place of David James.
Green appeared to have a harmless looking long-distance shot from Dempsey safely under control, but the ball somehow managed to squirm out of his hands and roll over the line.
England failed to live up to their role as favourites after Gerrard’s gaol game them an early in front of a near capacity crowd at the 40,000-seat Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
Frank Lampard worked the ball across to veteran striker Emile Heskey, who justified his place in the line-up with an intelligent pass to Gerrard, who right-footed the ball home from near the penalty spot.
The US side slowly recovered from the shock and gradually came back into the game, forcing a series of corners without breaking through England’s defensive line.
US striker Jozy Altidore, at 20 the youngest player on the pitch, went close in the 19th minute when he rose to meet a cross from midfielder Landon Donovan but headed the ball just wide of the post.
A minute later Aaron Lennon bore down on Tim Howard’s goal but the Tottenham Hotspur winger opted to pass the ball instead of taking a shot the US were able to clear.
Donovan himself went close with a powerful shot that flashed narrowly past the left post.
There was a scare for the US team in 29th minute when Heskey slid into the US keeper, injuring him in the ribs. But Howard was able to play on after treatment.
Capello brought on Shaun Wright-Philipps for James Milner on the half-hour and England’s game immediately livened up, although they were still unable to break the resolute US defence.
Wayne Rooney, who worked tirelessly throughout the match, went close early in the second half, but Brazilian referee Carlos Simon adjudged the effort to be offside.
England had a good chance to regain the lead in the 52nd minute when Lennon sent Heskey clear, only for the Aston Villa striker to fire weakly into the arms of Howard.
Altidore, top scorer in the qualifying round for the US, nearly put his side in front on 64 minutes, but his shot was parried onto the post by Green before being cleared.
Earlier Howard tipped a blistering shot from Lampard over the bar and Glen Johnson fired wide from close range from the resulting corner.
The US goalkeeper was further in action, stopping shots from Rooney and Wright-Phillips as England began to pile on the pressure in the final 15 minutes.
Capello replaced Heskey with Peter Crouch in the final 10 minutes but the lanky striker was unable to help the group favourites secure victory.
Group C continues Sunday afternoon when Algeria face Slovenia in Polokwane. England’s next outing is against the Algerians in Cape Town June 18. The US face Slovenia the same day.
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Tags: aaron lennon, bafokeng, blunder, capacity crowd, captain steven, clint dempsey, defensive line, emile heskey, fabio capello, frank lampard, landon donovan, philipps, robert green, royal bafokeng stadium, rustenburg south africa, steven gerrard, tim howard, tottenham hotspur, veteran striker, world cup campaign