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Late Cole goal gives England 2-2 draw with Czechs

Late Cole goal gives England 2-2 draw with Czechs

England midfielder Joe Cole scored in injury time to salvage a 2-2 draw against the Czech Republic on a miserable Wednesday night for the home side.
While news of Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick's departure was breaking off the field, England was struggling badly on it in front of the lowest crowd for an international at Wembley since the rebuilt stadium was opened.
Milan Baros put the visitors ahead midway through the first half with a shot that deflected off defender Ashley Cole. Wes Brown equalized with a header just before halftime, before Marek Jankulovski restored his team's lead in the 48th with a curling free kick.
Although England had almost all the second half in which to respond, the team seemed to tire as an unseasonably chilly and wet evening wore on. It looked set for a disappointing loss until Cole struck from close range well into added time.
There were only 69,738 fans in the 90,000-seat stadium, but loud jeers still filled the air.
Coach Fabio Capello must hope his players are simply out of practice with the Premier League season just one game old, since the friendly was his team's last before next month's opening qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup.
"The Czechs are very good team," Capello said. "I asked to play against the Czechs for this reason, to know where the problems are. I see that when we play against a team that waits for us and counterattacks, it is not easy to score.
"We have to study this."
There is little time for Capello to study anything, though. England plays Andorra on Sept. 6 and four days later at Croatia, which beat England twice to qualify for this year's European Championship instead of its opponent.
"Tonight we take another step," Capello said. "I saw a lot of things that I had doubts over but I think we are ready for the next game."
England had started brightly Wednesday, with some neat passing in midfield involving Steven Gerrard and David Beckham, who was making his 103rd international appearance.
Frank Lampard hit an early half-chance wide and Gerrard had a shot from an accurate 25-meter (yard) crossfield pass by Wayne Rooney blocked within the first eight minutes.
But the visitors got the chance to take the lead in the 22nd when Radek Sirl cut inside Brown and crossed to Baros in the area.
The striker managed to turn and shoot despite John Terry holding his shirt. David James appeared to have the low shot covered, but the ball hit Ashley Cole's boot and looped over the diving goalkeeper.
England responded with opportunities for Gerrard and Rooney, who Capello said he had deployed between lone striker Jermain Defoe and a three-man midfield, before Defoe had his side's clearest chance so far in the 38th.
Gerrard slipped the ball through the defense and Defoe hit a fierce first-time shot that goalkeeper Petr Cech pushed over his head and over the bar.
Brown made it 1-1 with his first goal in 18 international appearances when he headed in at the near post from Beckham's 45th-minute corner, but the lead was short-lived.
Three minutes after the break, Jankulovski left James flat-footed by curling a left-footed free kick from the edge of the area over the wall and into the top corner.
It almost got worse for England when James charged 30 meters (yards) from goal to intercept the ball on the right-hand touchline. James totally misjudged the pace of the ball and substitute Vaclav Sverkos easily got there first, skirting around the stranded goalkeeper before pulling a hurried shot well wide of the near post.
And the veteran goalkeeper attracted more jeers soon after when he spilled a simple shot by Sverkos and almost let the ball fall at his opponent's feet.
Capello had already introduced Emile Heskey at halftime and, despite his pre-match insistence that his experimentation with tactics and lineups was over, put on Joe Cole, Jonathan Woodgate, Jermaine Jenas, David Bentley and Stewart Downing in an effort to recover the match.
Downing shot wide from the edge of the area with a minute left, but it was Cole who got the equalizing goal after a scramble in the Czech goalmouth.
It was a rare bright moment on an evening when news broke that Barwick will leave the FA in December.
"We were controlling the game for the whole of the second half," Petr Rada said after his debut as Czech Republic coach. "If we had scored again, we would have been the winners of this match, but England is a very strong team and plays until the last minute."
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Lineups:
England: David James, Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand (Jonathan Woodgate, 57), John Terry, Ashley Cole, David Beckham (David Bentley, 79), Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard (Jermaine Jenas, 79), Steven Gerrard (Joe Cole, 57), Jermain Defoe (Emile Heskey, 46), Wayne Rooney (Stewart Downing, 69).
Czech Republic: Petr Cech, Zdenek Grygera (Zdenek Pospech, 46), Tomas Ujfalusi, David Rozehnal, Marek Jankulovski, Stanislav Vlcek (David Jarolim, 46), Radoslav Kovac, Jan Polak, Jaroslav Plasil (Michal Papadopulos, 90), Radek Sirl, Milan Baros (Vaclav Sverkos, 46).


Updated : 2021-05-17 18:51 GMT+08:00