Italy ties tiny Luxembourg; England equals Ecuador; Uruguay shuts down Slovenia

June 4, 2014

A look at the three teams that Costa Rica will face in Group D at the World Cup:

PERUGIA, Italy — Italy were stunned by a late goal from minnows Luxembourg as they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw in Perugia in their final friendly match before heading to the World Cup in Brazil.

Illness and injury forced Italy coach Cesare Prandelli into an experimental 4-1-4-1 formation, with Andrea Pirlo and Marco Verratti playing together in midfield in front of Daniele De Rossi, leaving Claudio Marchiso and Antonio Candreva to support lone frontman Mario Balotelli.

Prandelli’s tactic soon reaped rewards as Marchisio headed home a cross after just nine minutes.

However, a series of defensive lapses and wasted opportunities allowed Maxime Chanot to seal an impressive result  in the 85th minute of the game. Luxembourg, a country of approximately 500,000, sits 120th in the FIFA rankings

Prandelli’s men could not find the winner, and the four-time world champions now head to Brazil with a lot of soul-searching to do ahead of their first Group D match against England in Manaus on June 15.

England draw Ecuador 2-2 

MIAMI — Wayne Rooney and Rickie Lambert were on target for an experimental England squad in a 2-2 friendly draw with Ecuador on Wednesday, although the match turned sour with two late red cards.

Ecuador grabbed an eighth minute lead through a thundering header from Enner Valencia before England equalized in the 29th minute with Rooney poking the ball home after a scramble in the area.

Midfielder Ross Barkley produced a moment of fine individual skill to set up Lambert for a sweet strike in the 51st minute, but Ecuador fought back with a thundering drive from Michael Arroyo.

The double red cards came after a wild challenge from England substitute Raheem Sterling on Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian winger, who plays for Manchester United, retaliated by grabbing the neck of the Liverpool youngster and American referee Jair Marrufo brandished two red cards.

Rooney was the only player named who started Friday’s 3-0 win over Peru at Wembley Stadium as Roy Hodgson experimented with his options.

Ecuador also made five changes from the team which lost 3-1 to Mexico in Dallas on Saturday as they looked to improve on a recent run of form ahead of their tests in Group E against France, Honduras and Switzerland.

England will face Italy, Costa Rica and Uruguay in Group D.

Uruguay defeated Slovenia, 2-0, on Wednesday evening in La Celeste’s last World Cup warm-up.

Costa Rica’s final friendly comes against Ireland on Friday.

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