FOOTBALL / Lampard saves England’s blushes

Under-fire Arsenal striker Lukas Podolski answered criticism by German team manager Oliver Bierhoff and impressed national head coach Joachim Loew with two goals against Ecuador on the two-match tour of the USA.

“He put in a class performance with two goals, he ran hard and showed plenty of fighting spirit,” said Loew after Germany beat Ecuador 4-2 in Wednesday's friendly. “He has already showed repeatedly in recent years how important he is for our team.”

Podolski needed just nine seconds to pounce on a mistake in the Ecuador defence and slot home the first of his two goals, adding a second on 17 minutes, to leave him with 46 goals, taking him past Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to sixth in Germany's goal-scoring charts.

The 27-year-old said his double strike was not motivated by Bierhoff’s comments at the start of the week, but he admitted he was surprised by the remarks that he had “stagnated”.

“I was blind-sided by the comments. You can't goad me before every training session,” said the Arsenal star after his 109th international appearance.

“Everyone is allowed to express criticism, that goes without saying, but it's important that it comes from people who work with me every day — including the coaches.”

Drab draw

In London, England was left with more questions than answers after being held to a 1-1 friendly draw by the Republic of Ireland at Wembley Stadium in the neighbouring countries’ first meeting in 18 years.

The results:

Germany 4 (Podolski 1, 17; Bender 4, 24) bt Ecuador 2 (Valencia 44, Ayovi 84); England 1 (Lampard 23) drew with Ireland 1 (Long 13); Belgium 4 (Mirallas 6, Benteke 56, 71, Fellaini 64) bt USA 2 (Cameron 22, Dempsey 80).— Agencies

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