FRIENDLY: England 1 - 0 Ecuador
England were lucky enough to come away with a 1-0 victory after a poor performance against Ecuador.
England kicked off their first of two friendlies before the start of the World Cup, this time their opposition was Antonio Valencia's Ecuador, who were unfortunate to not qualify for the World Cup but possess lots of pace in their front five.
Hodgson was given strict instructions by the managers of Joe Hart, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker and Daniel Sturridge that they were only allowed to play 45 minutes for England in this friendly, which Hodgson stuck to the avoid any rifts with other managers.
England XI vs Ecuador
45'), Cahill(c), Caulker, Baines; Jones(
45'), Wilshere, Carrick; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sterling, Sturridge(
Ruddy, Smalling, Jagielka, Rodriguez, Shaw, Lallana, Rooney, Johnson(
Hodgson included some in-experienced players in the team and without usual captain Steven Gerrard, Chelsea's Gary Cahill took the armband to lead his team out to victory. England's front three of Chamberlain, Sterling and Sturridge looked to provide the biggest threat going forward due to their exceptional pace and understanding between eachother.
On paper, England look set to steam roll over Ecuador, however Ecuador had a point to prove after not being able to qualify for the World Cup and wanted to perform to their very best, this looked all set for a very good match at Wembley.
England started rather slowly, which is unusual as they usually start very quickly and try to get the ball to their wingers, they were pinging passes around the back and tried to advance forward by playing simple balls to Sturridge who was the lone striker tonight, but he couldn't hold up play for the others to advance forward.
The same story happened for the first 30 minutes, England had lots of possession but they could't open up a narrow Ecuadorian defence, however Sterling received the ball from a long pass by the stand in skipper Gary Cahill and ran Ecuador's left back to the byline, Sterling then whipped the ball in with pace and the keeper was able to swipe the ball out to Phil Jones, who was 25 yards out, and the Manchester United centre back, who was playing in midfield today drilled the ball low and hard into the bottom right corner to give England the lead.
Accurate: Phil Jones(above) was able to direct the ball precisely so it was able to hit the bottom corner from 25 yards out.
Jones celebrated with the England players but then a Ecuadorian fan ran onto the pitch and the game had to be paused whilst security caught the man and took him off the pitch.
The game then continued and England looked to have a spring in their step after Jones's goal and looked very determined to win the ball back when Ecuador had possession.
The referee soon blew the whistle for half-time with England in-front after a Phil Jones wonder-strike and then Roy Hodgson had to make 4 changes as he obeyed the orders of Joe Hart, Phil Jones, Kyle Walker and Daniel Sturridge's managers and only played them for 45 minutes, and brought on Glen Johnson, James Milner, Gabby Agbonlahor and Ben Foster.
England continued to try and open up the Ecuadorian defence but numerous times they either mis-placed their passes or wasted opportunities when the ball came to them. Luckily for England, Ecuador couldn't pose a threat to Ben Foster's goal and it gave England's back four an easy day in the office.
England couldn't add to Phil Jones's goal and the game finished 1-0 to England, however many England players looked frustrated after only narrowly beating Ecuador at home, however the England defenders looked rather pleased with themselves after a good day of defensive work at the back.
Alert: Stand in skipper Gary Cahill(above), made the most interceptions out of all the players on the pitch, 25.
Roy Hodgson's Post Match Comments:
"As much as our defence was very solid, I'm rather concerned that with the team I named, we were only able to score one goal against Ecuador. Credit to them as they defended very well but in future, we need to create and take more chances. The players tonight had a chance to impress me and I can say right now only a few played well and the others who didn't know who they are and that they need to improve before I choose my 23 man squad."