MIAMI: England came up against a resilient Honduras side reduced to 10 men for the last 20 minutes and found themselves short on ideas about how to break them down as they were held to a 0-0 draw in their last World Cup warm-up match on Saturday night.
England striker Daniel Sturridge had the best chance of the game after 22 minutes but his weak left-foot shot missed the far post and he was guilty of wasting two other good opportunities before a crowd of 45,379 at the Sun Life Stadium.
The match was suspended for 43 minutes in the first half due to the threat of lightning although in the second period the sparks were on the pitch with Honduras reduced to 10 men when Brayan Beckeles caught Leighton Baines in the head with his arm.
But England failed to capitalise on the one-man advantage in the closing stages leaving manager Roy Hodgson to put a brave face on their second draw in Miami after Wednesday’s exciting 2-2 result against Ecuador in front of half as many fans.
“It’s time for the real thing now,” he told ITV.
“Everyone is fit, (injured winger) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is making progress and I think he will make the tournament.
“Honduras were quite physical and it was one of the most frustrating games I have been involved in for a long time. I thought the tempo of our play and effort to score in the second half was commendable,” he added.
“I will take the draw and take the fact we got away without any injuries. We go to Brazil in the right frame of mind.”
Honduras coach Luis Fernando Suarez, whose team lost their previous warmup game 4-2 to Israel, was delighted with the draw, telling reporters: “A result like that against England can make people in Honduras believe and give them optimism.”
England’s opening World Cup game is against Italy on June 14 followed by Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D. Honduras start versus France before facing Ecuador and Switzerland in Group E.
England started brightly and should have scored through Sturridge with Valladares stranded, but he had no power in the shot which drifted wide after Welbeck dummied Rooney’s cross.
The game was then suspended with storm clouds gathering overhead as referee Ricardo Salazer beckoned the players to the touchline before taking them off field.
The video screen displayed a message saying the game was stopped “due to inclement weather with associated lightning”.
When it resumed Honduras defender Emilio Izaguirre was lucky to stay on the pitch after booting the ball against Sturridge’s midriff having just brought him down with a rash challenge.
England brought off Gerrard and Rooney at halftime and introduced Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley with the latter, who was dangerous off the bench against Ecuador, firing just wide.
Honduras were firm in the tackle and had already tested the referee’s patience when Beckeles became their fourth player to be cautioned after a dangerous two-footed challenge on Welbeck.
Sturridge then broke clear and tried an audacious chip when he could have shot and the ball sailed over the bar.
Ecuador right back Beckeles was sent off in the 65th minute for a second yellow card after catching fellow fullback Baines in the head with his arm as they jumped for the ball.
Sturridge wasted another chance after 73 minutes when he headed over after a fine cross from right back Glen Johnson leaving Hodgson’s team without a goal before their Brazil flight.