England’s preparations for Euro 2020 got off to a good start on Wednesday night, as they defeated Austria 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium. Despite some tough challenges from the visitors, the Three Lions dominated the first half. After a goalless first half, Gareth Southgate’s team needed to step up the tempo to find the breakthrough, and they did as Jesse Lingard wonderfully played Kane’s pass into Grealish’s path at the top of the penalty box, only for Marcel Sabitzer of Austria to challenge. Saka couldn’t miss when the ball rolled to him on the left side, and he didn’t. It was his first goal on an international stage.
Jude Bellingham, who Declan Rice partnered at the base of the midfield, fought his way into possession and was able to go forward after feeding Grealish before supplying Harry Kane on the left.
As Austria responded with a narrow shot, Marcel Sabitzer struck the crossbar before a late chance was blasted off the line as England fought for victory.
Gareth Southgate chose Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold to start, with Kieran Tierney on the left and the Champions League final duo rested after calling four right-backs to the team. Alexander-Arnold forced his way into dangerous flank areas fast, and after a break-in into the penalty area and a high shot, he almost scored the game’s first goal.
Trent sent up a loud cry and gripped his hamstring when an eviction began just before the game’s finish; the extent of his injury will be diagnosed in the coming hours and days.
Austria used a forceful strategy, especially in midfield, of “cutting off first, asking questions afterward,” and Xaver Schlager and his teammates jumped into duels at every chance, focusing more on aggression than precision.
Bukayo Saka got attacked early in the match, but Jack Grealish was a constant target, getting repeated hefty knocks after trying dribbles and tackles.
Shortly after being substituted, England manager Gareth Southgate may have overheard Jack Grealish request ice for his weak right shin. If Grealish can remain fit, he seems like he’ll play a significant role in the European Championship this summer.
The yellow card was shown more than often, and the displeasure expressed by England’s players was reasonable at times, but it’s not something they can anticipate at the finals.
Jordan Pickford’s incredible choice to lunge wildly and dangerously over his defender Ben Godfrey in an attempt to punch clear an innocuous ball almost resulted in a goal.
Ben White had to clear the line for the succeeding follow-up shot, and it was all that stood between a triumph and a draw that Austria did not earn.
Southgate will have witnessed some positive aspects in his team. Bellingham was another young player who made a strong case for a spot in the Croatia squad on his maiden debut.
This summer, Southgate has choices, which he will almost certainly need.
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