Raheem Sterling and Antonio Valencia were sent off as England drew a fiery World Cup warm-up against Ecuador in the Miami heat.
Scorers: Ecuador - Valencia (8) Arroyo (70); England - Rooney (29), Lambert (51)
In the humid Floridian climate, Enner Valencia headed Ecuador in front after some sloppy defending by Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw. Wayne Rooney equalised and Rickie Lambert brilliantly put England ahead, but Roy Hodgson had to settle for a 2-2 draw thanks to Michael Arroyo’s long-range strike.
An ill-tempered match spilled over towards the end when Sterling was dismissed for a wild challenge on Antonio Valencia, who was also given a straight red for grabbing Sterling by the throat in response. Jack Wilshere also struck out at the Manchester United midfielder and was lucky not to be dismissed.
Despite the dismissal of Sterling, there were some positives to take from the match. Ross Barkley, making his first England start, performed superbly in the number ten role – most notably in setting up Lambert’s goal.
Rooney also had an influence on the game despite being shunted out wide and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed flashes of brilliance – though the latter went off with a leg injury in the second half.
Ten days before England play Italy in their World Cup opener, it is clear Hodgson still has much work to do as his much-changed XI struggled to cope with Ecuador’s pacy attack.
The experiment of playing James Milner at right-back backfired massively while Smalling and Phil Jones suggested they are not reliable options at centre-back if Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka get injured in Brazil. Ben Foster also had a poor game in goal. The England boss will be keen for his team to put on a more convincing performance in the same conditions here against Honduras on Saturday.
Hodgson will also be concerned by injuries to Wilshere as well as Oxlade-Chamberlain, with both players forced off in the second half.
Despite humidity levels nearing 70 per cent, England played a high tempo in the first few minutes. Barkley saw Lambert find space in the box but Ecuador cleared their lines. Frank Lampard then screwed a good chance wide. But all the early promise drained away when Ecuador took the lead.
Milner dallied on the ball near his own corner flag and hooked a weak ball clear when he could have put the ball into the stands.
Oxlade-Chamberlain could not control the ball and Walter Ayovi clipped a ball into the centre of the box where Enner Valencia got in between Smalling and Shaw to power home.
Foster then almost gifted Ecuador a second. The goalkeeper, making his first England start in four years, wandered out of his box and had to backpedal quickly to save from Carlos Gruezo.
England had to resort to long-range shorts. Lampard hit the best one, a swirling, dipping effort which Maximo Banguera tipped over acrobatically.
Hodgson stood on the touchline looking worried but England were thrown a lifeline on the half-hour thanks to a clanger from Banguera. The Ecuador goalkeeper missed Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross and when Lambert’s backheeled shot cannoned back towards him off a post, he could only divert the ball to the feet of Rooney who tapped in from close range.
Foster did little to calm Hodgson’s nerves when he raced off his line to confront Enner Valencia, who prodded wide when he should have scored.
However, it was all smiles for the England coach after the break as Lambert found the net. Most of the credit for the goal should go to Barkley though. The Everton midfielder nutmegged Jorge Guagua and drifted past Frickson Erazo before finding the unmarked Lambert, who drilled home a low shot.
England’s back line always looked vulnerable to the pace and Enner Valencia picked up a loose ball in the box and drilled a low shot which came back off the woodwork. Luckily for England, Jones was there to clear.
But no amount of luck could have stopped Arroyo’s equaliser. The Ecuador substitute blasted a 20-yard strike past Foster. Milner and Wilshere made it easy for him, though, by not pressuring the attacker.
Hodgson brought Sterling and John Stones on for Rooney and Shaw but Sterling had only been on for a few minutes when he took Antonio Valencia out with a challenge and saw red.
Ecuador: Banguera, Paredes, Guagua, Erazo, Walter Ayovi, Antonio Valencia, Noboa (Mendez 50), Montero (Arroyo 68), Enner Valencia (Ibarra 83), Gruezo, Caicedo (Rojas 45). Subs not used: Bone, Castillo, Jaime Ayovi, Bagui, Saritama, Martinez, Achilier, Dominguez.
England: Foster, Milner, Smalling, Jones, Shaw (Stones 74), Wilshere (Lallana 87), Lampard, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Flanagan 63), Barkley (Henderson 84), Rooney (Sterling 64), Lambert (Welbeck 84). Subs not used: Forster.