Sports - Football - International - 2010 World Cup South Africa
England 1-1 USA
"Sometimes a forward misses, sometimes a keeper makes a mistake - that's football." - that's how manager Fabio Capello summarised a painful draw for England against the USA.
The match could not have started better when captain Steven Gerrard tapped in an Emile Heskey cross past US keeper Tim Howard with not even four minutes gone on the clock. England fans could not have wished for a better start.
But the Americans did not let that stop them, they kept up the pressure on England and enjoyed most of the possession. England keeper Robert Green did not have much to do as the England back four and their skipper stayed solid and kept tackling continuously and clean.
James Milner's England debut however, ended disappointingly early after half an hour. He was taken off minutes after he was booked and replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips.
Things went from bad to worse for England when one of those full-dreaded disasters for every goalkeeper happened: Aussie Clint Dempsey twisted and turned through the back line and got a low shot through from about 25 yards. It looked like a comfortable take for the England keeper, but somehow the ball slipped off and past Green's gloves and rolled over the line.
He must have seen it happen in slower motion, looking on in horror whilst it passed over the line, just like every England fan. "At half time I walked in, apologised to the lads and moved on." Green recounted after the match.
The second half saw both teams share plenty of possession, chances and pressure between them, both Wayne Rooney and Heskey missing good chances for England and sending Capello into fury on the sideline.
Frank Lampard pulled a good save from Howard with a free kick from about 25 yards out with just under half an hour to go. Just minutes later, US star striker Jozy Altidore outpaced sub-defender Jamie Carragher and fired in a goal-bound shot, for Green to make a fine save to see the ball deflect off the post and go across goal.
For the final ten minutes Peter Crouch came on for Heskey, who showed a fine display as provider but his own shots lacked aim staying off target. But neither side looked like they were going to be able to grab the match by its horns* and take all three points late-on. (*a.k.a. vuvuzelas)
According to Opta statistics, Green made more errors leading to goals than any other player in the Premier League last season. But former skipper John Terry backed the England keeper after the match: "It's one of those things. Mistakes happen and we're in this together. We need to get behind Rob - he's got good friends here."
England can take encouragement from the fact that defending world champions Italy also drew their group match against the US 1-1 back in 2006 and went on to win it. Hopefully, England can gain confidence from that and make similar improvement and progress.
Quotes taken from the BBC website.
England Green; Johnson, A Cole, Terry, King (Carragher 46); Gerrard, Lennon, Lampard, Milner (Wright-Phillips 30); Rooney, Heskey (Crouch 79). Bookings Milner 26, Carragher 59, Gerrard 61. Subs not used James, Hart, Dawson, Warnock, Upson, J Cole, Barry, Carrick, Defoe.
USA Howard; Bocanegra, Onyewu, Cherundolo, DeMerit; Bradley, Depmsey, Clark, Donovan; Altidore (Holden 86), Findley (Buddle 77). Bookings Cherundolo 39, DeMerit 48, Findley 74. Subs not used Guzan, Hahnemann, Spector, Bornstein, Goodson, Beasley, Torres, Edu, Feilhaber, Hercules Gomez.
Match Stats: England-USA
On target: 9-5
Free kicks: 8-10
Man of the match: Tim Howard
Ground: Royal Bafokeng Stadium
Referee: Carlos Eugenio Simon
Details and stats taken from the BBC website.