ENGLAND manager Roy Hodgson was left sweating over the fitness of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain today after the Arsenal young-gun limped out of last night’s penultimate World Cup warm-up.
Hodgson’s experimental side draw 2-2 against Ecuador in Miami, with Oxlade-Chamberlain having been arguably the brightest spark on the night.
Only Wayne Rooney remained from the starting 11 that had beaten Peru on Friday, and it was the Manchester United star, needing a good tournament to answer his recent critics, who scrambled in England’s first-half equaliser.
Strike partner Rickie Lambert lashed home a super second six minutes after the break, before Ecuador’s Michael Arroyo topped the lot by firing into the top corner from outside the box.
The main concern, however, regarded Oxlade-Chamberlain, who seemed to twist a knee after going over awkwardly in an accidental challenge.
Ecuador had gone ahead in the eighth minute as Enner Valencia, allowed goal-side by left-back Luke Shaw, headed home a superb cross by Walter Ayoví.
Goalkeeper Ben Foster, in for rested number one Joe Hart, also had to save from Carlos Gruezo and Jefferson Montero, the latter having run onto a through ball by former Manchester City striker Felipe Caicedo.
But he was twice let off when rushing off his line, while England’s defence - a likely second string, with Manchester United pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in the middle and City midfielder James Milner filling in at right-back - looked ragged.
At the other end, bright runs by Ross Barkley and Oxlade-Chamberlain almost forced an opening, and when the sprightly Oxlade- Chamberlain then dinked out a fine cross, Rooney forced the ball in from virtually on the goal-line after Lambert had back-heeled onto a post. There was a hint of handball by Lambert and offside, but Rooney’s 39th international goal stood.
Rooney also slid home another chance from a cross by Shaw, while he and Barkley had efforts from range. Oxlade-Chamberlain also forced a fine save from Maximo Banguera, from Milner’s pass.
Lambert’s thumping strike, from the right-hand side of the box, came six minutes in the second half and followed another good run by Barkley.
The new Liverpool man was denied a second by a fingertip save from the opposite side of the area after another surge by Oxlade- Chamberlain.
The latter, though, soon exited, Liverpool full-back Jon Flanagan, on stand-by for the World Cup, coming on for his debut.
Valencia missed a great chance to equalise, scuffing a shot against a post, before substitute Arroyo cracked home his belter.
The game ended ten-a-side as United’s Antonio Valencia reacted to a tackle by Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling, on for Rooney.
Both were sent off unnecessarily, though neither will face a ban.