England, Algeria end scoreless

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- England is looking nothing like the soccer power it's supposed to be.

Underdog Algeria held the Three Lions to a second disappointing World Cup draw, a 0-0 tie that left the Group C wide open and is sure to have English fans furious after their team arrived in South Africa as a favorite.

"If we want to stay in this tourney to the later stages we have to improve," England midfielder Steven Gerrard said.

"We know the job we've got to go do, win the last game. You know to play at this level you've got to handle it, play under the pressure."

With Wayne Rooney held scoreless for the seventh straight match, England lacked its touch against an opponent fighting to avoid becoming the first nation eliminated from the World Cup.

England hasn't scored since the fourth minute of its opening match against the United States. Algeria hasn't scored at all.

After Friday's games, Slovenia had four points to lead Group C, while England and the United States both had two. Algeria had one.

Even Desert Foxes coach Rabah Saadane was surprised at England's poor performance.

"I thought they would be better," Saadane said. "They were not at their best."

That's for sure.

England already gave the U.S. a 1-1 draw when goalkeeper Robert Green muffed Clint Dempsey's 25-yard shot in the opener. Now it has to face its inability to beat Algeria, the lowest-ranked team (30th) in the group.

"We weren't aggressive enough," Gerrard said. "We never had the cutting edge."

England coach Fabio Capello benched Green and brought back 39-year-old keeper David James to boost confidence in the team's defense.

It didn't matter on the offensive end, though. Touted as one of the World Cup's greatest stars, Rooney struggled again, was often too slow and failed to muscle his way past the sturdy Algerian defense.

Instead of England's star striker, it was Alergia's Karim Ziani who thrilled the crowd with his good moves.

"We played our game of short passes and skills," Saadane said. "England didn't have its day."

It took over half an hour for England to get a shot on goal, as Emile Heskey and Rooney proved to be an inefficient partnership. High in the stands, Britain's princes Harry and William looked on glumly despite being surrounded by a pro-England crowd.

Saadane also switched his goalkeeper, putting in Rais M'bohi after Fawzi Chaouchi had blundered in the opening loss to Slovenia.

Fighting for World Cup survival, Algeria never dug in defensively like so many underdogs do. Instead, it took the game to England and looked at least as good as the English during the first half -- and good enough afterward.

It was left to England's midfielders to attack yet again, and Frank Lampard had the best chance when he got the ball unmarked about 12 yards from the goal after Algeria failed to clear a Glen Johnson cross. But Lampard's weak left-footed shot was well-saved.

Now, Slovenia, England and the United States each control their own destinies headed into Group C's final matches. Algeria is still alive but will need some help to advance.


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