Ali Adnan scored a dramatic 93rd-minute equaliser as Iraq secured a 2-2 draw with England in the sides’ FIFA U-20 World Cup opener at Antalya’s Akdeniz University Stadium. The Three Lions’ had looked on course for their first victory in this competition in exactly 16 years, but their tournament record run now stretches over 15 successive winless matches.
Peter Taylor’s team had begun in purposeful style, with Ross Barkley surging forward after six minutes and forcing a fine save out of Mohammed Hameed. Iraq might have scored themselves with eight minutes of the first half remaining when Mohamed Abdulraheem drifted in from the right, eluded a couple of challenges, and curled a left-foot shot just over from 20 yards. But England remained on top and, soon after, Harry Kane showed great pace and power to break through the Iraq defence and force another good instinctive stop from Hameed.
From the resultant corner, England moved in front. Kane was again involved, flicking on James Ward-Prowse’s cross, and charging in at the back post was captain Conor Coady to direct a well placed header into the far corner of the net.
The game looked to have been decided in the space of a few second-half seconds, when Samuel Johnstone pulled off a magnificent double save and play immediately flowed to the other end. Alert and alive to possibilities, Kane rampaged down the right flank and claimed another assist with a low cross that Luke Williams side-footed firmly beyond Hameed at the far post.
It was, however, to prove a disastrous finish for the Three Lions after Iraq – throwing everything forward – halved the deficit with 15 minutes remaining.
Johnstone fouled Abdulraheem as he was racing through and, though he was not red-carded, the England keeper was powerless to prevent Ali Faez drilling home the resultant penalty. Then, with 93 minutes on the clock, Adnan struck. Twisting in from the left with past a succession of half-hearted challenges, he somehow squeezed a shot under the body of Johnstone to spark delirious scenes among the Iraq players and fans.