England completed their World Cup preparations last night as they were held to a frustrating draw against Honduras in Miami, after an electrical storm threatened the abandonment of the friendly.
Influential midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling were the only notable absentees, the latter suspended after receiving a red card against Ecuador and the former sidelined for three weeks with a knee injury.
England started on the front foot, testing the Honduran defence with their slick passing whilst Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney had dangerous efforts spilled by goalkeeper Noel Valladeres.
Daniel Sturridge had the game’s best opportunity after 20 minutes; combining well with Welbeck and Rooney, before he danced round the defence and side-footed wide, with the goal at his mercy.
Midway through the first-half, referee Ricardo Salazar ordered the players to leave the pitch due to an imminent electrical storm, forcing a 30-minute break in play.
Left-back Emilio Izaguirre was fortunate not to receive his marching orders after volleying the ball into Sturridge’s torso after he had recklessly fouled the Liverpool man, shortly before the break.
The game took a while to gain momentum after the restart, with the Central Americans happy to sit back and hit England on the counter-attack, as the first-half ended goalless.
Everton’s Ross Barkley replaced Steven Gerrard after half time and almost immediately opened the scoring, curling an effort narrowly over the bar; showing just why many would select him ahead of Rooney.
Honduras – whose starting eleven included three players with Premier League experience – employed largely physical tactics and were reduced to ten men with 25 minutes remaining after Brayan Beckeles foul on Leighton Baines.
Jordan Henderson flashed an effort wide with ten minutes remaining as England grew increasingly frustrated at their inability to create a meaningful chance.
Roy Hodgson brought on the experienced pair of Ricky Lambert and Frank Lampard to try and force a winner but the final chance fell to Adam Lallana who could not connect with Jack Wilshere’s pullback.
Speaking to ITV Sport, the England manager admitted that it had been “a frustrating game” and that the midfield pairing of Barkley and Wilshere had “added an injection of attacking flair” to their game.
Hodgson’s men embarked on an eight-hour flight to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil after the match and face a week at their army base training camp at the foot of Sugarloaf Mountain ahead of their opening Group D match against Italy on 14 June in Manaus.