Robbie Fowler salvaged England’s pride after his injury-time header earned a 2-2 draw with Cameroon, as the Three Lions twice came from behind.
Sven Goran Eriksson’s men achieved their main objective of avoiding further injuries and could take many positives from the match, with the impressive displays of first-half goalscorer Darius Vassell and second-half substitutes Trevor Sinclair, Teddy Sheringham and Fowler amongst the plus points.
But it was the Africans who started the brightest when Samuel Eto’o opened the scoring after just five minutes after Wome’s cross-shot struck the post and the Real Mallorca striker fired home the rebound past the helpless Nigel Martyn.
However, England were quickly back on level terms when Vassell slotted home Paul Scholes’s throughball via the right-hand post for his third goal in five England appearances.
But England were forced on the backfoot as the Africans asserted pressure on the England goal as they showed Eriksson why the new climate will quickly have to be adjusted to by his players.
And they were unlucky not to go into the half-time interval in the lead when Geremi’s free-kick on the left had Martyn beaten, but cannoned out of play via the crossbar after Owen Hargreaves had chopped down Eto’o just outside the area.
Eriksson again changed things around at the interval with six substitutions, with Sinclair in particular soon getting into the action and showing no signs of jet-lag following his 16,000-mile round trip to and from England.
But Cameroon regained the lead just short of the hour mark when Geremi curled home a tremendous free-kick which went in off David James’s left-hand post, with the keeper’s late dive in vain. And the Indomitable Lions almost added to their advantage when James spilled a right-wing cross to present Patrick Suffo with a chance, though the West Ham man made amends with a point-blank one-handed save.
However, with England ready to contemplate defeat, Fowler popped up at the death to nod Sheringham’s header home after the Tottenham man had steered Wes Brown’s free-kick into his path.