England labour to goalless draw against USA

England laboured to a drab draw against the United States to miss the chance to seal qualification for the World Cup knockout stage.

Gareth Southgate’s side were second best for long periods as they failed to match the energy and intensity of the USA, who have their own hopes of making the last 16.

England, with Harry Maguire solid in defence, were unimpressive and rode their luck when Weston McKennie missed an easy chance and Christian Pulisic struck the bar in the first half.

Mason Mount brought a fine save from USA goalkeeper Matt Turner just before the break but this was an undistinguished display that carried none of the attacking verve that saw the Three Lions thrash Iran in their opening game, and leaves them heading into their match against Wales with their fate undecided.

England remain firm favourites to qualify for the knockout stage, knowing they only need to avoid a four-goal defeat against Wales to progress.

England’s performance was unrecognisable from the creativity and threat that saw them overwhelm Iran just a few days ago. Instead, this was a lacklustre effort that drew loud jeers from supporters at the final whistle.

They were devoid of any spark and zip, looked jaded throughout and were fortunate that the USA, led by the excellent Pulisic, did not take advantage.  England barely created a moment of danger in the second half, captain Harry Kane’s late header wide the only moment of anxiety for the USA.

Jude Bellingham was unable to provide the drive that was a highlight of the Iran victory and he was eventually replaced by Jordan Henderson.  Southgate’s decision to keep faith with Maguire has drawn plenty of deserved scrutiny, given the Manchester United captain’s poor form over a long period at club level.

The manager has banked on Maguire continuing his solid track record at major tournaments, and he was indeed a rare shining light on a very poor night for England.

England are still almost certain to qualify but this was a jarring reality check.  They will have to perform far better than this when the stakes are raised later in the tournament.

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