Raheem Sterling shone as England beat 10-man Ivory Coast 3-0 at Wembley Stadium to make it nine games unbeaten.
It was a routine victory for the Three Lions under the Wembley arch to conclude a successful international camp as they continue to prepare for the 2022 Qatar World Cup later this year.
Ollie Watkins opened the scoring after a silky England move, Jack Grealish found Manchester City colleague Sterling on the left wing, who beat his man before firing a ball across goal for Watkins to tap England ahead.
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The visitors found themselves down to 10 men five minutes before the break, after former Tottenham defender and Ivory Coast captain Serge Aurier was sent off for a second bookable offence. In what seemed like a harsh second yellow card in a friendly, he did pull Watkins back and was given his marching orders.
Sterling got in on the action himself on the stroke of half-time, converting at the second time of asking to double England’s lead. He initially forced a good save out of Badra Sangare but the goalkeeper could only push the ball out as far as Grealish, who replied with a pin-point cut-back for Sterling to produce a cool finish.
England were awarded a penalty seconds into the second period when Ivory Coast substitute Fousseny Coulibaly fouled Jude Bellingham inside the box, but the decision was overturned when VAR replays showed the defender managed a touch on the ball.
Gareth Southgate’s side failed to add to their lead until the 93rd minute when Tyrone Mings headed home from a corner.
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TALKING POINT - NINE GAMES UNBEATEN FOR ENGLAND
Since that Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy, England have gone nine games without losing. They haven’t exactly come up against any problematic opponents, but it’s exactly the reply Southgate would have wanted going into a World Cup year.
Today’s fixtures were the last friendlies before Qatar 2022, with the next international camp focussed on the Nations League in June.
MAN OF THE MATCH - JUDE BELLINGHAM (ENGLAND)
A few players could have had a shout tonight. Sterling bagged a goal and assist, and Grealish was back to his dazzling self, but the youngster in the middle, Jude Bellingham, was fantastic.
The Borussia Dortmund man certainly played his way into the manager’s thoughts for a ticket on the plane to Qatar in November. He offers something different and is so dangerous in and around the penalty box. He could be a great option for Southgate at the World Cup, and for England years into the future.
ENGLAND: Pope 6, White 7, Mitchell 6, Rice 7, Mings 7, Maguire 7, Sterling 8, Ward-Prowse 7, Watkins 7, Bellingham 8, Grealish 8
Subs: Walker-Peters 7, Shaw 6, Gallagher N/A, Smith Rowe 7, Foden 6, Kane 5
IVORY COAST: Ali 7, Kamara 5, Deli 5, Bailly 6, Aurier 3, Seri 5, Kessie 5, Gradel 5, Cornet 6, Pepe 5, Haller 5
Subs: Boli N/A, Akouokou N/A, Agbadou 5, Coulibaly 6, Boly 5, Konan 5
16’ - OFF THE POST! Jude Bellingham has a great chance to put England 1-0 up, but Sangare gets a brilliant hand on it to steer his close-range effort onto the post! It was a brilliantly worked one-two in the box between Bellingham and Sterling, with the former put through on goal but failing to convert. It goes down as a great save!
30’ - GOAL! ENGLAND 1-0 IVORY COAST (WATKINS): This is a great goal! Grealish finds Sterling on the left wing, who beats his man and puts the ball on a plate for Watkins who can't miss. England lead!
40’ - RED CARD! Serge Aurier is shown a second yellow card and he's off. It looked like a silly foul on Watkins as he pulled him back, and despite it being a friendly the referee has stuck to the letter of the law and dismissed him. England now have a man advantage as well as a goal advantage.
45’ - GOAL! ENGLAND 2-0 IVORY COAST (STERLING): Who else under the arch? Sterling scores for England and it's another brilliant contribution on the night by the Man City man. He initially forces a good save out of Sangare, who can only push the ball as far as Grealish, who delivers a pin-point cut-back to Sterling to fire home England's second.
46’ - PENALTY ENGLAND! Bellingham is brought down by Coulibaly, but it looks like he gets a touch. VAR will have a look…
48’ - NO PENALTY! The referee goes over to the monitor, and overules his own decision. Justice done.
90’+3 - GOAL! ENGLAND 3-0 IVORY COAST (MINGS): Mings wins the header from the corner, and gets England their third!
- 15 - Phil Foden has never ended on the losing side in any of his 15 England games (W13 D2), the outright most appearances played without losing in the history of the Three Lions, overtaking David Rocastle’s record of 14 games between 1988 and 1992. (Opta)
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