England regretted key player absences but also lack of quality as the Republic of Ireland earned a deserved point at Wembley Stadium.
England were left with more questions than answers after being held to a 1-1 friendly draw by the Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday in the neighbouring countries’ first meeting in 18 years.
Frank Lampard quickly cancelled out Shane Long’s early opener for the visitors, and the lack of further goals meant the score between the sides finished 1-1 for the fourth game in succession.
England largely controlled the second half, but manager Roy Hodgson, who saw Daniel Sturridge go off injured, will hope for a more enterprising display in his side’s next assignment.
England travel to Rio de Janeiro later this week, ahead of a glamour friendly with 2014 World Cup hosts Brazil on Sunday that will mark the re-opening of the iconic Maracana stadium.
“I was very pleased with the second-half performance,” said Hodgson, who revealed that Sturridge would miss the trip to Brazil.
“We had sufficient dominance and goal chances to win the game, but we must give credit to the Irish goalkeeper.
“I can’t complain about anything we did today. They scored a good goal, but it was the only time they looked like scoring.”
Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland, meanwhile, host Georgia in a friendly on Sunday, before an important World Cup qualifier with the Faroe Islands on June 7.
“I think in 90 minutes, the result is right. Also, England in the second half had more possession,” said the Italian.
“But we already knew the great personality that England have. They are one of the three or four strongest countries in football.”
Pre-game, attention had focused on the potential for crowd trouble, as rioting England fans had caused the last encounter between the sides, in Dublin in 1995, to be abandoned after only 27 minutes.
There were also concerns that Ashley Cole, England’s captain for the night, might have been booed as he was presented with a cap by Hodgson commemorating the 100-game milestone he reached earlier this year.
Neither fear materialised, but matters on the pitch proved rather more problematic for the home side, as Ireland took a 13th-minute lead.
Ireland right-back Seamus Coleman was given space to shape an inviting cross into the penalty area and Long leapt above Glen Johnson to steer a fine header inside the far post.
England lacked a cutting edge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain blazing over, but they drew level 10 minutes later through Lampard.
Sturridge whipped a hip-high cross into the box from the left and the Chelsea man contrived to bring it down before flicking the ball past goalkeeper David Forde with his right foot.
It gave Sturridge an assist on his first England start, but the Liverpool striker’s evening did not last much longer as he was stretchered off with an ankle injury. Jermain Defoe took his place.
Hodgson introduced goalkeeper Ben Foster as a half-time substitute, for his first appearance since he reversed his May 2011 decision to withdraw from international football, and England began the second period well.
Coleman had to hook clear a Theo Walcott cross from beneath his own crossbar, while Lampard shot wide from distance and Walcott drew a one-handed save from Forde with a skidding low drive.
At the other end, substitute James McClean bent a free-kick narrowly wide, while Foster had a lucky escape after spilling a high cross under pressure from Long and Jon Walters.
England finished the game strongly and Forde twice kept the hosts at bay, rushing out well to block from Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 83rd minute and then saving from Walcott at his near post moments later.
Cole had created a degree of controversy by refusing to fulfil his pre-match media duties, but he said the experience was something he would “never forget”.
“I had no problems with being captain,” he told ITV. “I don’t always like talking to the press, but I’ve lived a little boy’s dream today.”