England 1-0 Austria. Match report and analysis

Saka scored for The Three Lions but Alexander-Arnold left the field injured.

With so many players absent, Southgate fielded a mixed XI made up of some first-team certainties, players pushing for a starting spot, and others likely to be on the fringes or, in Jesse Lingard’s case, cut from the Euro 2020 squad all together.

However, just four minutes in, there were encouraging signs for the England boss as the returning Alexander-Arnold – playing right-back in a 4-2-3-1 – burst down his flank, latched onto a superb Harry Kane pass and fired a deflected shot over from a tight angle.

Bellingham, making his first start for his country, flicked home from Lingard’s shot following another corner soon after but saw his celebrations cut short for a foul by Mings in the build-up, before Saka volleyed wide from close range.

Harry Kane then showed his threat with the best chance of the game so far on the half-hour mark, testing Daniel Buchmann from a tight angle, moments after hooking a cross-shot towards Lingard.

At the other end, Mings boosted his first-team chances with some tidy defending before making an important block to deny Christoph Baumgartner in the box just before half-time.

The Austria midfielder appealed for handball after the ball deflected up onto Mings’ arm but his appeals were rightly waved away before Pickford – who had already drawn applause for some incisive passes out of defence – punched the resulting corner away confidently.

The start of the second half was punctuated with fouls on England players but when the hosts finally hit their flow, they pulled Austria apart to open the scoring.

Bellingham broke up play in midfield and the ball was shuttled on by Grealish to Kane. The striker picked out Lingard on the edge of the box and, when he laid it off for Grealish, a tackle by Sabitzer sent the ball into the path of Saka who tucked in from a tricky angle.

That was the cue for Southgate to make four changes – but it was almost a nightmare start to his international debut for Ben Godfrey, who had to be bailed out by Everton team-mate Pickford after sending a careless back-pass towards his own goal

Then with just two minutes to go came the moment Southgate must have dreaded: a serious-looking injury to an important player.

There were no Austria players near him when Alexander-Arnold hit a left-footed clearance but he immediately clutched his left thigh and looked in trouble as he limped back towards the dressing room.

Worryingly for Southgate, Alexander-Arnold may have given him another injury worry though, with the Three Lions’ second and final warm-up match against Romania on Sunday.

 

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