England 0 Chile 2: Back to the drawing board as Chile underline gulf in guile 

In this sea of sloppy passing Rodriguez in particular was lost

Wembley

Where did all that euphoria go? Nights like this invest Greg Dyke’s commission into the structural ills of English football with fresh impetus. And it’s Germany up next. Mein Gott. Perhaps fate was doing us an early favour, heaping a dose of reality on over-active imaginations. That said, you wonder what the answer is when players of the calibre of Jack Wilshere give the ball away with such frequency he might have been dressed in red.

England have met Chile only five times and Nat Lofthouse was the last to score against them in 1953, not that we needed statistics to help inform our understanding of what to expect. Chile, a team of footballing itinerants, conform to the south American model of quick feet and lumpy tackles. The visit to London was effectively a bonus ball following their qualification for the World Cup. This generation of Chilean players, the first since 1998 to make the journey, got to tick the ‘played at Wembley’ box and England were afforded a sharp look at Latin opposition. Useful if the teams are grouped together when the World Cup draw is made in Brazilian city of Salvador next month.

The England landscape had shifted significantly since the torpor of Ukraine. Victories against Montenegro and Poland and the consequent Andros Townsend effect had produced a positive mood swing. Hodgson has enjoyed the easiest month of his managerial career and stopped by unprompted to pass the time of day with reporters on the first day of England training in Hertfordshire this week, even giving them an exclusive medical bulletin on absentee captain Steven Gerrard and right-back Kyle Walker.

Availability issues and the shortage of games before the World Cup squad is announced combined to give England a quasi-experimental look, which went down well in distant quarters. The debut of Burnley-born Jay Rodriguez, or Jay-Rod to his mates, merited a whole page in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph. The appearance of Rodriguez and his Southampton team-mate Adam Lallana suitably Latinised the England team for the visit of opponents thought to represent a radically alien philosophy, despite the presence of players from Nottingham Forest, Wigan and Cardiff in the Chile team.

That the myth of the exotic foreigner lingers is a fair commentary on the myopic condition that still hinders English thinking. Mind you, ignorance is not exclusively ours. The Chilean propaganda machine was all over the place. England’s footballers were both a pampered, privileged class, softened by fame and fortune, and a great footballing nation with a noble tradition, while Chile’s football proletariat emerged from stereotypical impoverished roots, driven to succeed by want and privation. And all this out of one reported mouth, that of Alexis Sanchez, who must have been dizzy with the doubling back he was forced to do to clarify his position.

A glance down the England squad list reveals few sons of the English middle class. The memory of growing up poorish in Croxteth or Huyton, the fate of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard respectively, is unlikely to be erased by the good life experience, no matter how many cars in the garage. The important thing for England was not so much to familiarise themselves with some freakish Latin system, and the inherent supremacy assumed therein, but to understand that the ball and the pitch is the same for both sides. Command those and the world is yours. If only.   

On a freezing night in north London, Wembley had to rely on the sound system for atmosphere. A great chunk of the upper tier, lately colonised by Poles, was empty. That is not to say Chile were not well represented in the stands. And eight minutes in there was tumult. After an opening spell of often chaotic defence Chile scored with their first foray across the half-way line, Alexis Sanchez stooping to head home.

There was nothing mesmeric about the attack, nothing to learn save for the importance of concentrating early in games. After a promising start England were suckered by a schoolboy ambush, notwithstanding the high quality of the finish. At least the setback gave the game a visceral edge it might have been lacking. If Hodgson wanted to judge the new boys in a setting that meant something, here was significance rippling the back of the England net.

The response was casual. Wilshere, arguably England’s most technically gifted midfielder, was guilty of the most heinous crime, giving the ball away in a series of unforced errors. Claudio Bravo was busy enough in the opposition goal, theatrically so at times, but there was little systematic about the openings created. In this sea of sloppy passing Rodriguez in particular was lost. Lallana less so, and might have levelled shortly before the interval after a decisive break from always effervescent Wayne Rooney.   

Hodgson must have been tempted to withdraw Rodriguez at half time. He survived 13 minutes of the second period without erasing the uncomfortable comparison with fellow Lancastrian Simon Kerrigan, who endured a similarly harrowing international debut with the England cricket team in the final Ashes Test at the Oval. Hodgson said that a negative display would necessarily count against the overwhelmed. The way of the world therefore would appear to have done for Rodriguez.

The departure of Rodriguez saw the introduction of Townsend and with him a sense of purpose returned at last. Where there is pace there is hope. Chile were suddenly less sure of themselves in defence and the appearance of Jermaine Defoe for James Milner raised the temperature further. 

This was ultimately a lesson in fundamentals. Chile are not world beaters. They are organised, each knows his role and in Sanchez, known to the world via the Barcelona prism, and Matias Fernandez, the commander of the Fiorentina midfield, Chile have two players who would grace any side.

England have their own principals. Rooney and Townsend both shone when coupled late in the game, but the whole lacked cohesion and mistakes were punished, as they will be in Brazil by better teams than this.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices