England came from behind to muster a 1-1 draw against a combative and organised Republic of Ireland side at Wembley on Wednesday night, as the Three Lions extended their winless run against the Boys in Green to five games and 33 years.
Ireland took the lead through Shane Long, who's first-half flicked header soared into the top corner, before Frank Lampard levelled the scores just 10 minutes later, prodding the ball past goalkeeper David Forde.
Wayne Rooney was provided with the chance to let his football do the talking, picked for his first start since April, and partnered in-form Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge. Ashley Cole was given the honour of leading the team out to celebrate the 100th cap he picked up against Brazil in February.
Giovanni Trapattoni stuck with his tried and trusted 4-4-2, with Long and Robbie Keane leading the line and Wigan's James McCarthy providing craft alongside the steel of Stoke's Glenn Whelan in midfield.
The build-up to the match was cast in the shadow of the events at Lansdowne Road in 1995, when rioting forced the match to be abandoned. Roy Hodgson's plea for calm and respect had the required effect, with a friendly atmosphere created around Wembley, barring an ill-conceived Irish flare.
The match itself began at walking pace, with both sides feeling the effects of gruelling domestic campaigns and taking time to reacquaint themselves with their respective countrymen. England struggled to control the ball, while Ireland - through Long - looked especially dangerous on the break.
It was the diminutive frontman who opened the scoring for the away side. Darting in front of Glen Johnson, Long glanced Seamus Coleman's pin-point cross beyond the reach of Joe Hart and into the top corner of the net.
England began to show a little more intent after going behind, and it soon paid dividends. Sturridge broke down the left flank and when Sean St Ledger failed to clear the 23-year-old's cross, Lampard was on hand to cutely poke the ball past Forde from close range.
With Ireland having enjoyed a large slice of possession in the opening 45 minutes, the Three Lions pressed a little higher and a little more aggressively in the second period. A quick transition saw Theo Walcott released, but his cross was cleared by Coleman from beneath his own crossbar as Cole lurked dangerously.
Hodgson's side did not burst to life again until until past the hour-mark, with Jermain Defoe – who replaced the injured Sturridge – feeding Walcott once more. This time the Arsenal striker fired a low effort at goal which was confidently pushed away by Forde.
Ireland threatened to claim victory when substitute James McClean's deflected cross was bundled towards goal by Jon Walters, but the Stoke forward's goal-bound header was blocked on the line by his own team-mate, Simon Cox, who was offside.
With the match heading for a stalemate, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was presented with a chance to score a late winner, racing onto Rooney's deflected pass, but was thwarted by the onrushing Forde. With time running out, the Millwall goalkeeper then denied Walcott with another brave stop.
In the end it was a case of new day, same problems for England as they once again faltered against competitive opposition. Devoid of creativity and unable to exert their authority on the match, Hodgson has a lot of work to do before World Cup 2014 qualification resumes. The Irish support, meanwhile, warmly and loudly embraced a heroic performance from their team.
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