Green blunder hands USA draw

2010-06-12 22:35
Robert Green reacts with John Terry in the foreground after letting in USA's equaliser. (AFP)

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 on Saturday.

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 from half-time.

England had gone ahead from their first foray into opposition territory.

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 boot.

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.

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