Five World Cup teams were in action this afternoon with the 1-1 draw between Italy and Luxembourg headlining the results followed closely behind by the 2-2 draw between England and Ecuador. Elsewhere, Algeria showed some nice grit in a 2-1 win over Romania while the Netherlands dumped out a Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale-less Wales side 2-0.
The matches served as a pre-cursor to tonight’s fixtures when Argentina takes on Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay plays Slovenia, Chile faces off against Northern Ireland and Ivory Coast meets El Salvador.
Here’s an expanded rundown of this afternoon’s results.
Italy 1 Luxembourg 1: Maxine Chanot denied Italy their first win in seven matches when the Luxembourg defender headed the equalizer past Gianluigi Buffon with five minutes to play. The Azzurri jumped out to an early lead through Claudio Marchisio’s 9th minute goal but were unable to capitalize in the 2nd half, twice striking the woodwork. It was a worrying performance for Cesare Prandelli’s side, made up largely of first-team players including Mario Balotelli, who couldn’t find the back of the net despite his five shots.
England 2-2 Ecuador: In an open and entertaining match, a searing shot by Ecuador forward Michael Antonio Arroyo Mina in the 70th minute ensured a share of the spoils on a muggy day in Miami. La Tri opened the scoring just eight minutes into the match when Enner Valencia headed Ecuador in front after some poor defending by Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw. A scuffle in the box then saw Wayne Rooney level for England in the 29th minute before a sensational 51st minute strike by Rickie Lambert was cancelled out by Mina’s howitzer from the top of the box. Antonio Valenica and Raheem Sterling were sent off with 11 minutes to play when the latter came through the United winger, who reacted angrily by strangling the English youngster.
Algeria 2-1 Romania: Algeria and Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb and Romania’s Alexandru Chipciu exchanged early goals before the two sides were removed from the pitch in the 43rd minute following fans throwing lit flares and bottles. After a 15 minute break the two squads returned to the pitch and in the 66th minute Algeria forward El Arabi Soudani nailed the winner that triggered 15 fans to run on the pitch at Switzerland’s Stade de Geneve.
Netherlands 2-0 Wales: It was a comfortable win for the Netherlands, who received a goal from Arjen Robben and Jeremain Lens in each half of play. The real story, however, was Dutch striker Robin van Persie, fresh off recovering from a knee injury that kept him sidelined for six weeks, sparked injury concerns when he was withdrawn at halftime after struggling with fitness.