Barkley impresses in first England start

, 4 June, 0comments  |  Jump to most recent
Ecuador 2 - 2 England
Ross Barkley enjoyed a hugely promising outing in his first start and John Stones made another late cameo for England in a 2-2 draw with Ecuador in Miami's Sun Life Stadium.

Barkley showed some lovely touches and flashed a low drive wide in the first half before laying up England's second goal for Ricky Lambert to lash home early in the second half.

Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka were rested but Stones was again included on the bench hoping to earn his second England cap with a substitute's appearance.

Deployed in his favoured "number 10" role behind the striker, Barkley sparkled at times for England and might have got himself on the scoresheet inside six minutes but Ricky Lambert delayed the pass and the Everton man was flagged a yard offside.

A surging counter-attack and a delicious back-heel that almost carved the Ecuadorians open when Wayne Rooney teased the ball across the face of Ecuador's goal provided more evidence of what Barkley could do before he drove past his marker and lined up a long-range drive that arrowed not far wide eight minutes before the break.

Better was to come from Barkley, though, who skinned his marker with a deft touch and then feigned to shoot before laying up Lambert to drive into the far corner from the angle and make it 2-1 to England with 51 minutes gone after Rooney had cancelled out Enner Valencia's headed opener in the first period.

Stones made his entrance in the 74th minute, replacing Luke Shaw, entering an increasingly open game as the South American side, having equalised through Michael Arroyo's terrific 20-yard shot, began pressing for a winner.

After 83 minutes, Barkley was withdrawn in favour of Danny Welbeck while Stones made a couple of strong forays down the right after switching to that flank following Raheem Sterling's dismissal for a rash tackle on Antonio Valencia.

Barkley's showing drew praise from almost all quarters, with Oliver Holt in The Mirror saying that "there were positives [for England]. Most of all, that means the performance of Ross Barkley who was England's best player and produced a series of surging runs that pressed his case for inclusion in Hodgson's starting line-up against Italy in Manaus."

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail evoked comparisons with Paul Gascoigne, saying that the "Everton midfielder was brilliant for England in Ecuador [and] appeared quite at home in his first start for the Three Lions."

Hodgson, though, was less effusive and appeared positively defensive in his post-match interview. He singled out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones as being "outstanding" but criticised Barkley for losing the ball too much, even though his Opta Stats revealed a pass-completion rate of 91%.

Asked whether Barkley would be among the starters against Italy in Manaus in 10 days' time, the England manager said: "There always seems to be an enormous obsession with one player...

"I will be prepared to start any of the players in any game, but I'm not prepared to address your obsession with Ross Barkley.

"If he's going to be the player we want him to be, he has to make better decisions when he turns with the ball.

"That's not a criticism, but there were other performances out there today. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Phil Jones were outstanding, as was Jack Wilshere in the middle of the park, while Rickie Lambert scored a magnificent goal."


About these ads

© ToffeeWeb