Gritty Ireland hold England

Gritty Ireland hold England

Podolski shines in German victory

Gritty Ireland hold England

England drew 1-1 with Ireland for the fourth time in a row in an entertaining friendly at Wembley on Wednesday. 

Shane Long gave Ireland an early lead but Frank Lampard quickly equalised and although England dominated possession they failed to conjure up another goal in the teams’ first meeting since their 1995 friendly in Dublin was abandoned due to crowd trouble. 

Ashley Cole captained England in honour of his recent 100th cap but the left-back had a quiet match before leaving the field to warm applause after being substituted in the second half. 

After a lively start by both tams, Ireland took the lead in the 13th minute with an excellent goal. 

Right-back Seamus Coleman swung in a teasing cross from the right and Long climbed above Glen Johnson to flick a firm header into the far corner of the net from 10 metres out. 

The Ireland fans celebrated wildly and green smoke drifted across the pitch but England equalised 10 minutes later. 

Daniel Sturridge held up possession on the left and waited for Lampard to make a trademark late run into the box and the prolific midfielder controlled the ball before flicking it low into the net from six metres. 

England have not beaten Ireland since 1985 and they struggled to break down Giovanni Trapattoni’s fiercely committed and well organised side. 

England travel to Rio de Janeiro to play Brazil in a friendly on Sunday when Ireland host Georgia. 

Podolski blitz

Lukas Podolski scored one of the fastest goals in international football when a largely second string Germany beat Ecuador 4-2 at Boca Raton, Florida, in a friendly on Wednesday. 

The Arsenal striker netted after only nine seconds as the Germans once again showed their impressive strength in depth. 

The crowd had barely taken their seats before Podolski robbed defender Gabriel Achilier and confidently drove home.  Davide Gualtieri’s goal after 8.3 seconds for San Marino against England in 1993 is considered by FIFA to be the fastest goal in a World Cup match. 

Germany were 2-0 up after just three minutes when Sidney Sam picked out Lars Bender’s run and the midfielder, with no defender near him, strolled through a hole in the back four and fired home. 

In the 17th minute, Max Kruse broke down the left and pulled the ball inside for Podolski to blast in number three and it was 4-0 after only 24 minutes when Roman Neustaedter fed Bender whose low shot sneaked past Ecuador keeper Maximo Banguera.

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