The calm before the storm did not live up to the billing in Miami as England and Honduras fought out a goalless draw in an ill-tempered match halted in the first half by thunder and lightning.
Seven days before their FIFA World Cup Group D opener against Italy in Manaus, the Sun Life Stadium encounter was the final act of a week-long acclimatisation camp for England before heading to Brazil.
Roy Hodgson’s team looked comfortable, if blunt, for the most part and looked to have somehow avoided injury despite some full-blooded Honduran challenges. Daniel Sturridge had the best chances in a match which was subject to a 43-minute first-half delay due to an electrical storm, which forced the players and most of the 45,379 crowd inside.
Brayan Beckeles was back inside the dressing room after 65 minutes following two bookings in quick succession, yet England were unable to find a winning goal.
Hodgson offered a glimpse of how England may line-up in their World Cup opener by naming a strong-looking side, the same XI that started last Friday’s 3-0 defeat of Peru at Wembley in their final friendly before their match against Italy on June 14.
Giving away possession
Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney were replaced for the second half, with Jack Wilshere and Ross Barkley the players introduced. The Everton playmaker impressed against Ecuador on Wednesday but afterwards Hodgson expressed his frustration at his knack of giving away possession.
That was evident within 30 seconds of his introduction, yet soon after Barkley showed just why he is so highly-rated, linking-up with Wilshere before curling wide from 25 yards. The 20-year-old’s footwork drew a foul out of Bernardez moments later as the Honduran tackling became increasingly robust, with Hodgson visibly angered with Beckeles for a hefty challenge on Danny Welbeck that saw him booked.
The Manchester United man dusted himself off and, maybe still shaken, chipped wide when well-placed, before Valladares rushed off his line to deny him soon after Barkley was denied by a fine tackle.
The match was becoming increasingly ill-tempered and Bernardez fizzed a free-kick across the face of goal after a poor Adam Lallana challenge, who was booked and given a final warning soon after.
The referee would not have to wait long to produce a red card, though, Beckeles recklessly challenged Leighton Baines in the 65th minute. The defender caught the Everton left-back with an elbow, leading Salazar to hand him a second yellow and an early exit.
Sturridge wasted a glorious chance as the match entered the final 20 minutes, heading over an inviting Glen Johnson cross as tempers continued to fray. Substitute Jerry Palacios was fortunate to avoid being reprimanded for taking down Barkley and team-mate Baines became the recipient of the evening’s eighth booking.
Clearly angered by some of the challenges, Baines did not shake hands with the opposition at the end.