Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014

FIFA World Cup: England held to draw in fiery warm-up, Belgium and USA post wins

England defender Gary Cahill is tripped by Honduras defender Victor Bernardez during the second half of their friendly match in Miami. (Source: USA Today Sports) England defender Gary Cahill is tripped by Honduras defender Victor Bernardez during the second half of their friendly match in Miami. (Source: Steve Mitchell USA Today Sports)
Posted: June 8, 2014 5:22 pm

England and Honduras drew 0-0 in a fiery and physical final World Cup warm-up match that saw Honduras defender Brayan Beckeles sent off at Sun Life on Saturday.

The weather was as wild as some of the action on the pitch in Miami Gardens, with the game halted midway through the first half for 45 minutes due to a lightning storm.

England struggled to create scoring chances even with a man advantage, and the pressure will grow for Ross Barkley to start in Brazil after the 20-year-old midfielder raised the tempo when he came on at half time.

Beckeles, who had been booked for a lunge on Danny Welbeck, was shown a second yellow card in the 66th minute after catching Leighton Baines’ face with his elbow.

Dries Mertens’ late strike helps Belgium win against Tunisia

Dries Mertens scored one minute from time as Belgium scrapped to a 1-0 victory over Tunisia in its final preparation game for the World Cup on Saturday.

The match was interrupted for about 40 minutes after a severe hail storm forced players off the field in the first half.

After a successful preparation campaign highlighted by a 5-1 victory over Luxembourg and a 2-0 win in Sweden, Belgium coach Marc Wilmots sought safety first for the send-off game against Tunisia.

He kept Romelu Lukaku on the bench until the 61st minute after the striker had already proven his form with four goals in the last two games. He also experimented in midfield by keeping expected World Cup starters Axel Witsel and Kevin De Bruyne sidelined.

Tunisia was reduced to 10 men after 63 minutes when Issam Jemaa was sent off for a second yellow card for grabbing Vincent Kompany’s shirt.

Belgium dominated but lacked the cutting edge and had only a few shots at goal until Mertens slotted home after being set up by Nacer Chadli’s pass.

Belgium plays Russia, South Korea and Algeria in Group H.

Jozy Altidore strikes twice as United States win against Nigeria

Jozy Altidore ended his goal drought to score twice as the United States completed their World Cup preparations with a 2-1 win over Nigeria at EverBank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday.

Altidore had not scored since December for either his English Premier League club Sunderland or the national team but managed a goal in each half to send the U.S. to Brazil on the back of three successive friendly victories.

(Inputs from AP and Reuters)

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