In the humid Floridian climate, Enner Valencia headed Ecuador in front after some sloppy defending by Chris Smalling and Saints ace Luke Shaw.
Wayne Rooney equalised (above) and Lambert brilliantly put England ahead, but Roy Hodgson had to settle for a 2-2 draw thanks to Michael Arroyo's long-range strike.
A fiery match spilled over towards the end when Raheem Sterling was dismissed for a wild challenge on Antonio Valencia, who was also given a straight red for grabbing Sterling by the throat in response.
Jack Wilshere also struck out at the Manchester United midfielder and was lucky not to be dismissed.
Despite the dismissal of Sterling, there were some positives to take from the match.
Ross Barkley, making his first England start, performed superbly in the number 10 role - most notably in setting up Lambert's goal.
Rooney also had an influence on the game despite being shunted out wide and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain showed flashes of brilliance - though the latter worryingly went off injured in the second half.
And 10 days before England play Italy in their World Cup opener, it is clear that Hodgson still has much work to do as his much-changed XI struggled to cope with Ecuador's pacey attack.
The experiment of playing James Milner at right-back backfired massively while Smalling and Phil Jones suggested they are not reliable options at centre-back if Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka get injured in Brazil.
Ben Foster also had a poor game in goal.
The England boss will be keen for his team to put on a more convincing performance in the same conditions here against Honduras on Saturday.