Bukayo Saka’ first England goal helped England to scrape a 1-0 victory in a low key friendly against Austria at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough.
Fringe players Jude Bellingham, Jack Grealish, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Saka all turned in energetic performances in the first half, but the best chance fell to Austria’s Christoph Baumgartner.
In the second England asserted control through Grealish, and good work from him, Harry Kane and Jesse Lingard set up Saka to give England the lead.
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Austria almost equalised soon after as Marcel Sabitzer hit the bar from the edge of the penalty area, before Michael Gregoritsch put a simple header wide in the dying minutes and substitute Ben White cleared off the line for England in injury time. The bigger concern for the hosts was Alexander-Arnold, who limped off in the final minutes in some discomfort with what manager Gareth Southgate thought was likely a thigh injury.
England will return to the Riverside Stadium to play Romania on Sunday.
Is Trent-Alexander Arnold out of Euro 2020? There were only a few minutes left when Liverpool’s right back grimaced as soon as he cleared a routine ball up the field.
Alexander-Arnold hobbled off the pitch in clear distress, and also with a yellow card to his name after a booking from the referee for a perceived breach of protocol when he was trying to leave the field.
England finished the game with 10 men, and Southgate will now be sweating on whether his squad might now have to play the European Championship without Alexander-Arnold too. There was a fevered debate in some quarters about whether he should be in the squad at all; England might now be about to find out how costly his absence from the squad might be.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Jack Grealish (England)
For someone who has not played a lot of football in recent months, Grealish relocated his touch and awareness with consummate ease tonight. He was a constant threat in the space between Austria’s midfield and defence and was pivotal in the creation of the winning goal.
England (4-3-3): Pickford 6; Alexander-Arnold 7, Mings 6, Coady 6, Trippier 6; Rice 6, Bellingham 7, Grealish 8; Lingard 6, Kane 7, Saka 7
Subs: Godfrey, Ward-Prowse 6, Watkins 6, Calvert-Lewin 7, White 7
Austria (3-5-2): Bachmann 6; Dragovic 6, Hinteregger 5, Friedl 6; Lainer 5, Baumgartner 7, Laimer 5, Schlager 6, Alaba 7; Sabitzer 7, Kalajdzic 6
Subs: Schaub 5, Grillitsch 6, Schopf 6, Gregoritsch 5, Baumgartlinger 6, Trimmel 6
29’ GOOD SAVE! Saka wins a loose ball and finds Grealish in space. He saunters forwards and slides in Kane on the left of the area, and Bachmann is out well to smother the shot. Kane was offside it turns out, but that was sharp play from Bachmann.
41’ CHANCE! England's defence just evaporated here with one long ball over the top. Neither Coady or Mings take charge of it and Baumgartner picks it up, gliding unopposed at goal as Mings and Coady retreat. Mings eventually gets a block in as Baumgartner opens up to shoot from 12 yards out, and it deflects behind for a corner.
57’ GOAL! England 1 (Saka 57) Austria 0 Saka scores his first for England! Grealish gets the ball in the centre circle and finds Kane on the left. Neat interplay between Kane and Lingard finds Grealish bursting through to the penalty spot; he's dispossessed as he opens up to shoot, but it falls to Saka who guides the loose ball into an empty net from the left!
64’ OFF THE BAR! Sabitzer has another go from the edge, this time curling it over Pickford but off the crossbar.
89’ CHANCE! What a miss! With England all over the place Austria whip a cross into the box, where the unmarked Gregoritsch puts a simple header wide from ten yards out. Alexander-Arnold has gone off, with no substitutions left England will play out with ten.
90+2’ OFF THE LINE! Pickford clatters into Godfrey as he punches a shot clear. The ball breaks to Schopf, who drills in a low shot from the left and Ben White blocks it on the line!
- This was England’s second ever international at the Riverside Stadium, 18 years after their 2-1 victory over Slovakia in 2003.
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