England snatch Czech draw
20 Aug 2008 - 22:06:57
Joe Cole scored a last-minute equaliser as an unconvincing England drew 2-2 in their friendly international against the Czech Republic at a rain-soaked Wembley.
England coach Fabio Capello had opted to retain John Terry as captain ahead of defensive colleague Rio Ferdinand, while Jermain Defoe was handed a start in attack alongside Wayne Rooney.
The early minutes of the game saw neither side able to carve out a clear opening, although Steven Gerrard did test Petr Cech with one long-range drive.
Fifteen minutes in Milan Baros was released in the inside right channel, shrugged off Rio Ferdinand and drove a low shot across goal, forcing David James into a smart, low save and Wes Brown completed the clearance.
Midway through the first half the Czechs took the lead as England's right flank was carved open by Marek Jankulovski and Radek Sirl.
Sirl's pass into the box allowed Baros to turn away from Terry 12 yards out and his shot was deflected past James by the covering Ashley Cole.
England struggled to respond, but finally built up a head of steam as half-time approached, with Cech making solid blocks from both Gerrard and the lively Defoe.
Right on the interval England drew level as a Beckham corner from the right was met by the arriving Wes Brown, who powered a header past the stranded Cech from close range.
However, three minutes after the restart the Czechs were back in front as they won a free-kick 20 yards out and Jankulovski curled an exquisite left-foot shot into the top corner of the net to leave James rooted to the spot.
On the hour mark James charged off his line towards the right touchline and was beaten to the ball by Vaclav Sverkos, but the Czech could not direct his shot on target from an acute angle.
A rash of substitutions then disrupted the flow of the game, with England unable to put the Czech rearguard under any concentrated pressure.
However, they earned a draw with a scrappy goal deep into the four minutes of added time at the end of the game.
A corner from the right flank bobbled around the area and eventually Joe Cole bundled the ball home from close range after the ball had been knocked back across goal by Emile Heskey.