The U.S. and England tied 1-1 in their opening World Cup Group C game after South Korea and Argentina both began their campaigns with victories.
Clint Dempsey’s goal off an error by goalkeeper Robert Green gave the U.S. the draw at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa, after England captain Steven Gerrard opened the scoring in the fourth minute.
“It was a difficult game,” Gerrard said in an interview with ITV. “I think the most important thing in your first game is not to lose. Unfortunately we let in a poor goal and we couldn’t go on to get the winner.”
The U.S. tied the game five minutes before halftime when Green allowed Dempsey’s shot from 25 yards to trickle off his hands and into the net. Green was named the starting goalkeeper by manager Fabio Capello today over David James and Joe Hart.
“It’s a goal the goalkeeper should have made a save on but they all count the same when they go in,” Dempsey, who plays for Premier League club Fulham, said in a televised interview.
Gerrard stunned the U.S. early when he took a pass from Emile Heskey, cut into the middle of the penalty area and poked a shot past Tim Howard.
Green made his first save in the 10th minute by catching Dempsey’s header. Landon Donovan then lofted a cross into the England area which Jozy Altidore just missed getting his head to.
Aaron Lennon passed rather than shooting after cutting into the U.S. area in the 20th minute and Wayne Rooney’s long-range effort was gathered in by Howard as England controlled play.
The game was delayed briefly in the 29th minute while Howard received treatment after colliding with Heskey as they went for the ball and Capello brought on Shaun Wright-Phillips for James Milner during the stoppage. Dempsey then pulled the U.S. even in the 40th minute.
Lennon made a quick run into the U.S. area early in the second half, though his pass into the middle found no one. Heskey then got away from his defender and shot right at Howard.
The U.S.’s Carlos Bocanegra headed Donovan’s free kick wide in the 62nd minute. Frank Lampard’s shot from outside the area was knocked over the bar by Howard and Glen Johnson shot wide off the corner kick.
Green atoned for his error in the 65th minute by pushing Altidore’s goal-bound shot onto the post after the striker raced past defender Jamie Carragher. Rooney couldn’t get a clean header on Gerrard’s cross, then fired a long shot wide as Howard dove to the far post.
England continued to pressure with Howard stopping shots from Wright-Phillips and Rooney before Heskey headed over the crossbar from six yards. Donovan put a long shot over with the final chance of the game in the 89th minute.
Algeria and Slovenia, the other teams in Group C, play tomorrow. Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0 and South Korea defeated Greece 2-0 in today’s Group B games.