Jermain Defoe's second-half double allowed England to come from two goals down at the break to snatch a 2-2 draw in their friendly against Holland. England seemed certain to start the World Cup season with a morale-sapping defeat as basic blunders from Rio Ferdinand and Gareth Barry gifted the already-qualified Dutch their interval advantage, as Dirk Kuyt and Rafael Van der Vaart pounced. Instead, Fabio Capello managed to inject some life into his troops, with Defoe supplying the killer finish to passes from the excellent Frank Lampard and eye-catching youngster James Milner, to take his personal tally to four England goals in two games. Capello is far too experienced to be won over by the result, which is pretty creditable in itself given the hosts are ranked No 3 in the world.
However, while defensive deficiencies were obvious, England's refusal to accept defeat from the most unpromising of situations bodes very well for the trials expected to lie in front of them in South Africa next year. However, it was a shambolic opening period. Ferdinand is among one of the best defenders in Europe. So his decision to turn a pass towards Robert Green without so much as a lift of the head in his goalkeeper's direction can only be put down to a mental aberration. The result was an opportunity for Kuyt to nip in and slip the ball past Green, then beat the West Ham goalkeeper again on the way back as he opened up an angle. Barry then sent Arjen Robben through. The former Chelsea star probably could not believe his good fortune. Yet again though Green repelled him, only for captain Van der Vaart to drive the rebound into an empty net.
It ended a thoroughly miserable opening first-half for the visitors, who had played well in patches but were too often pulled apart by the fluidity of Holland's movement in attack. But five minutes into the second period Lampard chipped a pass through to Defoe, who bore down on the Dutch goal and finished in fine style just five minutes after the restart. And, 13 minutes from time, parity was restored as Milner ? yet another impressive substitute ? bravely got his head to the ball and nodded past John Heitinga before charging to the by-line and delivering a low cross that Defoe gleefully tapped home. A late flurry at both ends might have brought a winner but considering the circumstances, England were probably quite happy with a share of the spoils. * PA Sport