Rustenburg: England`s hopes
of a winning start to their World Cup campaign were shattered
by an extraordinary blunder by goalkeeper Robert Green that
gifted the United States their equaliser in a 1-1 draw here
England captain Steven Gerrard gave his side a dream
start to their Group C campaign with a fourth minute strike at
the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
But Fabio Capello`s men were sent back to square one when
Green let in Clint Dempsey`s tame, 25-yard shot five minutes
England had gone ahead from their first foray into
Picking up a Glen Johnson throw-in from the right, Frank
Lampard threaded a pass that was flicked on by Wayne Rooney to
Emile Heskey on the edge of the area.
The Aston Villa striker got in front of Jay DeMerit and
his first-time ball anticipated an untracked run by Gerrard,
who prodded the ball past Tim Howard with the outside of his
That might have precipitated a collapse from less
resilient sides but the Americans were soon creating problems,
particularly down the right.
England had a significant let-off when Jozy Altidore
headed Landon Donovan`s chip wide after outjumping Ledley King
but they generally looked in control of the match until
Green`s 40th-minute blunder.
Gerrard was partly culpable, having allowed Dempsey to
twist away from him on the edge of the area but still there
seemed no danger as the West Ham goalkeeper knelt to gather a
shot directed straight at him.
Somehow the man Capello had selected ahead of the more
experienced David James allowed the ball to spin off his right
glove and over the line.
England hit back through Glen Johnson, who tested Tim
Howard after a mazy run to the edge of the area, but they were
unable to restore their advantage before the interval.
Heskey should have done so soon after the restart, when
Aaron Lennon`s first-time pass sent him clear of a flat-footed
American defence. But the striker`s shot was unleashed too
early and straight at Howard.
England`s frustration was clear as Jamie Carragher, on as
a second half substitute for King, and Gerrard picked up
bookings in quick succession for late challenges.
Lampard made his presence felt with a left-foot drive
that Howard had to touch over at full stretch.
But it was the Americans who enjoyed the clearest chance
of a winner, Donovan releasing Altidore whose close range
strike was touched on to the post by Green.
England`s best chance of the second period fell to Shaun
Wright-Phillips, but Howard was able to comfortably beat away
the Manchester City winger`s poorly directed shot from the
left of the goalmouth and it was the Americans who finished
the match pressing for a winner.