Earlier today the US and Slovenia were held to a 2-2 draw, and winning this group was in the hands of England. Surely they would brush aside Algeria, although in fairness there are no weak sides in the World Cup Finals. Still, England are in 8th position in the FIFA World Rankings, while Algeria are in 30th place. Hopes were high going into the World Cup Finals that England would do well after sweeping aside their opponents in qualification. Capello, celebrating his 64th birthday today, made several changes to his line-up with David James replacing Robert Green after the West Ham United player's blunder against the US last weekend. Gareth Barry was declared fit to play and replaced James Milner, and Jamie Carragher was named in the starting line-up taking over from the injured Ledley King. It should be noted that the last time England changed the goalkeeper during the World Cup Finals was in Mexico in 1970 when Gordon Banks fell ill and had to be replaced in the quarter-finals.
This was the first encounter between these two countries, and in this scoreless draw there were no real agonising near misses. Steven Gerrard, close to the half hour mark, from about 25 yards, took a shot but M'Bolhi got down low to gather the ball, in what was his first start for Algeria. In the 33rd minute Aaron Lennon sent in a cross from the right which was headed away by Algeria but only as far as Lampard. Lampard's shot was saved well by Algeria's goalkeeper.
Two minutes into second half Algeria were awarded a free-kick 35 yards from England's goal, but the Three Lions wall did their job. There looked to be an opportunity for England in the 55th minute, but Gerrard's pass went behind Lampard in perhaps a miscommunication between the two players. Then in the 62nd minute Lennon crossed the ball towards goal, but Halliche managed to get his head on the ball and put it over the waiting Rooney.
With twenty minutes remaining there was some good play from England, but Heskey's shot was intercepted by Belhadj and the ball ended up on the roof of the net.
It was a frustrating night in Cape Town for England whose fans who booed the team at the end of the game. The supporters reaction prompted a complaint to a TV camera about the fans jeers from Wayne Rooney, but what more could the players expect from their fans who have travelled so far to cheer on their team? Fans have come to expect so much more from the England team considering the number of Premiership stars on the team. So with the US and Slovenia also drawing today, Group C is wide open going into the final match of the group stage on Wednesday. England will have to raise their game if they are to have a chance of getting through to the Round Of 16, and you can bet their fans will be right behind them. It may be worthwhile remembering though that the last time England were in this position was in 1990 and the team then reached the semi-finals. It would be hard to imagine that the England players will be anything other than pumped up for their final group game, after their first two dismal performances in South Africa.
James #1, Carragher #18, Terry #6, Johnson #2, A Cole #3, Barry #14 (Crouch 84 mins - #9), Lampard #8, Gerrard #4 - Captain, Lennon #7 (Wright-Phillips 63 mins - #17), Rooney #10, Heskey #21 (Defoe 74 mins - #19).
Subs Not Used: Green #12, Carrick #22, J Cole #11, Upson #15, Dawson #5, Warnock #13, Milner #16, Hart #23. (Full Squad)
M'Bolhi #23, Bougherra #2, Belhadj #3, Yahia #4 - Captain, Yebda #19 (Mesbah 88 mins - #20), Lacen #8, Kadir #21, Halliche #5, Boudebouz #7 (Abdoun 74 mins - #22), Ziani #15 (Guedioura 81 mins - #17), Matmour #13.
Subs Not Used: Medjani #18, Gaouaoui #1, Mansouri #6, Saifi #10, Djebbour #11, Bellaid #12, Laifaoui #14, Chaouchi #16.
England Caution: Carragher (58 mins)
Algeria Caution: Lacen (85 mins)
Referee: Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)