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World Cup Recap - England vs. United States

(Saturday, June 12th)

Final Score: England 1, United States 1

Rustenburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - England and the United States battled to a 1-1 draw Saturday at Royal Bafokeng Stadium to open World Cup Group C play for both teams.

England got a goal from midfielder Steven Gerrard in the first five minutes, and U.S. right winger Clint Dempsey fired a shot off England goalkeeper Robert Green just before the first-half break that could go down as one of the worst goals of the tournament.

Both teams are tied atop Group C with a point apiece, with the other two teams in the group, Algeria and Slovenia, set to square off on Sunday in Polokwane.

The Three Lions put the U.S. on its heels early with Gerrard's third career World Cup goal after some horrendous defending by the red, white and blue.

After a throw-in from the right side, England midfielder Frank Lampard played a ball toward goal that found forward Emile Heskey. Heskey's one-time pass found Gerrard, who took a touch into the area before placing a shot just past U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard and inside the right post.

Gerrard was left wide open on the fourth-minute goal after he ran in behind U.S. midfielder Ricardo Clark.

The U.S. recovered after the early goal and had a chance to pull even about 15 minutes later when a Landon Donovan service to the top of the England six-yard box was narrowly missed by striker Jozy Altidore.

The two teams traded chances in the next 10 minutes, with U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo breaking up a teasing ball into the U.S. area, and an Oguchi Onyewu header going just wide of the England net off a Donovan free kick in the 27th minute.

The U.S. faithful held their breath just after the half-hour mark when Howard, one of the top goalkeepers in the world, went down after being spiked on a fair challenge by Heskey with the ball sliding through the area. But after a brief stay on the turf, Howard got to his feet and play resumed.

The U.S., which started to find its feet in the closing minutes of the half, saw a Donovan chance go just wide about three minutes before Dempsey's gift goal in the 40th.

Dempsey took control of the ball just outside the England area fired a left- footed shot right off the hands of Green, who watched the ball trickle over the goal line. Dempsey has scored the last two World Cup goals for the U.S. after scoring against Ghana in the group stage in Germany in 2006.

Howard, who made seven saves in the game, came up with a big one shortly after the interval when an Aaron Lennon through-ball beat the U.S. defense and gave Heskey an open shot from 18 yards out. Howard ate up the hard shot, however, as Heskey failed to pick a corner and shot right at the U.S. 'keeper.

The U.S.'s best chance of the second half occurred just after the hour mark when Altidore muscled around England defender Jamie Carragher and fired on goal from close range, but Green got just enough to deflect the shot off the post.

England striker Wayne Rooney, considered one of the best strikers in the world, got his first touch in a dangerous area about 20 minutes from time when his header off a Gerrard cross went well wide.

Rooney had another dangerous chance when his powerful strike went just wide of the right post in the 75th minute.

Rooney then laid off a ball to Shaun Wright-Phillips in the area about a minute later that Howard parried out-of-bounds.

The U.S. slowed the game down thereafter and the match ended in the 1-1 draw.

The USA plays Slovenia on June 18 in its next Group C match, while England will face Algeria later the same day in its next fixture.

06/12 16:53:37 ET

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