Back in 1970, just before the World Cup
in Mexico, England played Ecuador in Quito, and won 2-0, and then went
on to have quite a good tournament.
This time the fixture was played in
be hoping that history may repeat itself and they can again go on to
make an impact in the competition.
Mind you, they will have to be a lot more solid
than they were here at the home of the Miami Dolphins.
This was another match in the warm up to the
World Cup and it was a tough game for
against another of the tournament qualifiers.
The weather was warm and humid, a little more like
can expect over the coming weeks, and Roy Hodgson made a number of
changes to the team that beat Peru
at Wembley five days ago.
More of the squad players were given a chance and in the first few
made a bright and positive start.
Wayne Rooney almost latched on to a through ball, Ross Barkley
just failed to set up Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and
Ricky Lambert so nearly put Rooney in again.
With a little luck England
could have been well ahead, but just as they were congratulating
themselves for this excellent start,
Ecuador's first attack brought a goal
on eight minutes.
A corner should have been given as James Milner
tried to clear, and Oxlade-Chamberlain could also have cut out the
danger, but the ball landed at the feet of Walter Ayovi and he quickly
sent in a terrific cross.
Chris Smalling didn't jump high enough and Luke Shaw made no challenge
on the marauding Enner Valencia who powered home an unstoppable
Ecuador's goalkeeper, Maximo Banguera, often
elected to punch the ball clear and showed signs of a typical
eccentric South American goalkeeper!
But he was effective as England tried to fight back from the
shock of conceding a goal.
On 14 minutes a great flick from Barkley set up Rooney again, but he
could only scuff his shot wide.
Two minutes later and England's defence was all over the place
as Ecuador almost scored a second.
In the end Carlos Gruezo's shot was saved by Ben Foster.
The goalkeeper was left exposed far too often in the first half
and again he had to block another shot as Ecuador threatened again.
Then, as the game swung from end to end, Barkley made one of
those trademark powerful forward runs, and with the help of Oxlade-Chamberlain
he came so close to an equaliser.
Only desperate defending saved the day for the South Americans.
Frank Lampard fired in a long range shot which
Banguera tipped over, but too many England passes were going astray
and Antonio Valencia hit one good shot over the bar for Ecuador.
But to be fair England kept pushing forward and on 28 minutes
they equalised. Good play
by Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a cross to the far post hit
Lambert somewhere on the upper arm.
The ball dropped close to goal and Lambert then back-heeled the
ball against a post as England scrambled around.
It was finally Rooney who made the vital touch to push it over
the line, his 39th goal for his country, and despite the
scrappy nature of the goal, the England talisman was delighted to
Play still swung from end to end and the pace of
the Ecuador wide men was certainly causing England problems,
especially Milner, who looked uneasy in his right-back role.
But Barkley and Oxlade-Chamberlain were looking very sharp,
doing some super work and giving Hodgson plenty of food for thought.
It was good, too, to see Rooney looking as though he was
enjoying his game, and that can only ever be good for England.
Just after the half-hour mark it was heart in the
mouth time as Foster came hurtling out of his goal and missed the
ball! Luckily Enner
Valencia lacked the necessary composure to fully punish the keeper and
the ball went harmlessly wide.
At the other end Rooney came close when Shaw's pass came in
from the left, and then Barkley had another attempt at goal.
Both managers would have been tearing their hair out at some of
the defending, but it was England who came close again before the
break. First Rooney had a
long range shot easily saved and then, following the best move of the
half Oxlade-Chamberlain forced Banguera into the best save of the
The second half was a little more sedate, with
the heat and tiredness gradually taking its' toll, but it certainly
wasn't without incident.
Just as in the first-half England started brightly and six minutes
into the half England were ahead.
A wonderful surging run by Barkley saw him stretch the Ecuador
defence, and at the end of the run he laid the ball off perfectly for
Lambert to crash home an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
Four minutes later and it was Oxlade-Chamberlain's brilliant
run that almost set up Lambert again, but this time the shot was wide.
For the first time England looked more in
control, but Ecuador weren't finished and Foster had to save from
Antonio Valencia. A real
blow then struck England as Oxlade-Chamberlain was felled after a
skirmish with Gruezo. If
body language was anything to go by then it looked serious for the
Arsenal player, and everyone will be waiting for the result of the
after-match scans he must now endure.
The injury seem to be the switch for Ecuador to
come back again and over the next few minutes it was the South
Americans who were controlling the play.
It culminated in an equaliser on 70 minutes, and what a strike
it was! Wilshere and
Milner failed to close down substitute Michael Arroyo and the
Ecuadorian punished them by hitting a screamer beyond Foster's
many substitutions certainly upset the rhythm of the game in the
latter stages, and that was probably no bad thing for England,
although they received another blow when another major incident flared
up on 78 minutes.
Substitute Raheem Sterling went in wildly on Antonio Valencia on the
touchline, and in the hurly-burly of the Premier League it would
probably have been no more than a yellow card.
But Valencia's over-the-top reaction as he grabbed Sterling by
the throat, probably cost the pair of them their place on the pitch,
as the referee showed both players red.
It was a shame as the game had previously been played in a good
spirit, but Sterling will quickly have to learn how World Cup referees
from other countries will interpret the laws of the game.
After that both sides seemed to settle for a draw
and to be honest that was the fairest result.
It was a good workout for England but it was difficult to
understand of what benefit it was to Hodgson, as it ended with more
questions than answers.
Some players did their cause no harm, but others were found wanting
and that is just a little worrying with a World Cup tournament just
around the corner.