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USA Tame Three Lions In Goalless Stalemate

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – England missed the chance to secure qualification to the knockout stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup with a game to spare, as the Three Lions were held to a goalless draw by the United States of America in Group B.

Gareth Southgate named an unchanged team for the first time since the 2018 World Cup on the back of their thrashing of Iran, but his side desperately struggled for rhythm in a cagey first half. The first opportunity of note did fall England’s way after 10 minutes when Jude Bellingham drove menacingly forward and slipped in Bukayo Saka, who cut the ball back to Harry Kane, only for the striker’s effort to be blocked by Walker Zimmerman.

However, the USA looked sharper than the Three Lions and had an even better chance to break the deadlock midway through the first half when Timothy Weah whipped in a gorgeous cross that found Weston McKennie unmarked in the box, but the Juventus midfielder skied his effort on the half-volley.

The Stars and Stripes’ talisman Christian Pulisic then cracked a fearsome shot against the crossbar before glancing wide Sergiño Dest’s cross. England failed to register a shot on target until the stroke of HT when Mason Mount’s drive was tipped round the post by Matt Turner, with clear improvement needed after the break.

Southgate would have been concerned by his side’s lethargic start, but he decided to hold off on substitutions heading into the second period. There were no early signs of a reaction from his team though, as a poor touch from Mount deprived him of the chance to slip in Raheem Sterling or carry on himself, and England were starting to come under pressure defensively, conceding a succession of corners around the hour mark, and Harry Maguire utilised his commanding aerial presence to head clear on a couple of occasions on his 50th cap.

Southgate decided to act with a little more than 20 minutes left as Jordan Henderson and Jack Grealish came on for Bellingham and Sterling, although Gregg Berhalter’s men weren’t budging, with Tyler Adams and Yunus Musah providing a robust presence in the middle of the park throughout the contest.

The introduction of Marcus Rashford for Saka also failed to have the desired effect, as England were unable to find the winner, although Kane’s late header did come close as he powered wide from Luke Shaw’s cross. The Three Lions still need a positive result from their meeting with Wales, while the USA face a must-win clash against Iran.


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