World Cup 2010 – England toil in turgid draw

England must beat Slovenia in their final Group C match to guarantee themselves a place in the last 16 after Fabio Capello’s side drew 0-0 with Algeria in a turgid match in Cape Town.

England huffed and puffed for most of a forgettable 90 minutes, but toiled to break down a resolute Algerian defence.

England’s best chance of the match fell to Frank Lampard on 32 minutes.

The ball broke to the Chelsea midfielder in the box, but his shot from 15 yards was easily claimed by goalkeeper Rais Ouheb M’Bohli diving low to his left after a fine driving run by Aaron Lennon.

Slovenia top the section on four points with the USA and England on two points. Algeria pick up their first point of the tournament. The group is poised for a nervy conclusion on Wednesday afternoon.

Capello, on his 64th birthday, brought in David James after Robert Green’s mistake in the 1-1 draw with the United States allowed Clint Dempsey’s shot to wriggle through him for the equalising goal.

Jamie Carragher replaced the injured Ledley King in central defence alongside former captain John Terry, while Glen Johnson was posted at right back. The changes had little or no effect.

Carragher was booked in the second period for a foul on Hassan Yebda, and will be suspended for the match with Slovenia. After such an unconvincing outing, that may be no bad thing.

Algeria had gone down 1-0 to Slovenia in their opening game of the group and could not afford a similar outcome at the Green Point Stadium, but they hardly lacked confidence in the opening 20 minutes.

Karim Ziani’s cross was almost deflected past James by Carragher on 17 minutes when a touch could easily have carried it beyond the England keeper.

Algeria continued in an offensive mood. The Rangers defender Majid Bougherra swung a ball in for Yebda on 22 minutes, but the returning Barry, one of England’s few minor successes in the match, denied him space with a timely block.

England enjoyed a brief spell of domination before half-time. After Lampard blew his glorious chance, Barry tried his luck with his left foot from 20 yards, but it flew straight at the Algerian keeper, who coped adequately with most of England’s somewhat predictable forays forward.

The second period was notable only for its lack of quality.

Algeria became camped in their own half playing on the counter attack, while England struggled despairingly with their lack of fluidity in the 4-4-2 formation.

Gerrard was free inside the box, but could not pick out a colleague on 55 minutes, while his header from Barry’s corner was clasped by M’Bohli 20 minutes from time.

In between such rare goal-threatening times, Ashley Cole aimed a cross towards Wayne Rooney, but Rafik Halliche did well to nod the ball behind with the frustrated Manchester United forward lurking.

Emile Heskey was replaced by Jermain Defoe on 74 minutes after another joyless night roaming around the fringes of the opposition area.

The sight of the towering Peter Crouch replacing Barry with six minutes remaining signalled England’s desperation for a goal that would never come.

England were booed off the park at the full-time whistle as Rooney openly lamented the vocal criticism spewing out of the enormous stands.

It is seven matches since he scored in an official game for England, his longest drought since November 2005.

It perhaps summed up England’s night, an evening that began in hope, but concluded shrouded in an air of hopelessness.

Match stats

England v Algeria

Goals 0-0

1st Half Goals 0-0

Shots on Target 5-1

Shots off Target 6-5

Blocked Shots 4-7

Corners 10-3

Fouls 14-13

Offsides 1-3

Yellow Cards 1-1

Red Cards 0-0

Passing Success 82%-78.1%

Tackles 21-26

Tackles Success 81%-92.3%

Possession 54.6%-45.4%

Territorial Advantage 51.8%-48.2%

Desmond Kane / Eurosport

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