De Futebol England needed a Daily Double from Harry Kane to beat Tunisia 2-1

England needed a late goal from Harry Kane to secure a hard fought 2-1 over Tunisia In Group G.

Belgium defeated Panama 3-0.

Both England and Belgium each have three points in Group G however Belgium is a plus three while England is a plus one.

The Daily Mail:” Soft penalty. Tick. Raheem Sterling missed sitter. Tick. Underwhelming opening-game scoreline, plenty of work to do now, a frustrated nation watching from home. Tick, tick and bloody tick.

So it was shaping up as another typical World Cup opener for England. And then Harry Kane scored. He scored in injury time, his second of the game.

The cynical will say they were two tap-ins: a header and a close-range finish, six-yard box interventions from corners. But let’s put that into perspective. England last scored two in any finals game in 2006 against Sweden. And an England player last scored twice at a World Cup 28 years ago. Gary Lineker, against Cameroon, in 1990. England did quite well in 1990, too. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

England won. The best team won. That’s good news, too. England haven’t looked as lively as they did in the opening 45 minutes here in close to two decades. It was far from the perfect display but it is not going to be when Gareth Southgate is sending out England’s youngest team at a World Cup since 1962.

There will be errors like the one Kyle Walker made to give away the penalty for Tunisia’s goal — although it was still a soft fall —there will be misses, like Sterling’s horror show after just five minutes. Nerves can do that.

Yet, in glimpses, Southgate saw his vision, his England, take flight. They were everything the manager would have wished: fast, positive, ambitious, optimistic. They dominated Tunisia, creating enough chances to have won not just this first group game, but maybe all three.

They had six shots on target before half-time: more than any team at the World Cup so far. More than Spain and Portugal, more than Lionel Messi’s Argentina against Iceland; more than Brazil. And it was just like watching Brazil at times. Except the finishing. The finishing, Kane aside, was like watching Alan Brazil. Long retired, and after four days at Cheltenham. Not a pretty sight.

And then there’s Kane, entering a World Cup as if born to it, the youngest captain of his country at the tournament, the oldest head on the field when it mattered.

Anyone who wondered why Southgate made him captain now knows: because he leads by example, because he stays cool under pressure, because he makes good things happen, and can drag people through adversity with him. And memo to Roy Hodgson: it’s a lot easier to score from corners when you’re not taking them.

Kane changed England’s World Cup narrative and maybe this entire campaign, too. England were slipping towards another night of disappointment, but Kane had other ideas. He’s always got other ideas. He had other ideas when Tottenham thought he wouldn’t make it as an elite goal-scorer, other ideas when the European Championship in 2016 appeared to have blighted his England career, and other ideas when England were conforming to type in Volgograd.

The announcement of four minutes’ injury time had just been made and England appeared to have run out of steam. We’ve seen this film before.

They won a corner, but hadn’t threatened even from that favourite area in the second half. Kieran Trippier whipped the ball in, Harry Maguire won the header, as he had all night, and there was Kane — just as he had been for the first goal — at the far post seeking the glimmer of a chance. He nodded it past reserve goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha. Against all expectations, England were going to get what they deserved.

Now this has to be repeated. Not just the performance but the scoreline. One won’t do. That has been England’s problem at tournaments for too long now. They score one. Never two. And if they are going to take risks as Southgate wishes them to, they have to be prepared to score two.

For, as tame as Tunisia’s penalty looked, there was plenty of professional opinion that blamed Walker for giving it away. Fakhreddine Ben Youssef made the most of it, and then some, but Walker’s positioning was poor. It needed Kane to overcome that. It now needs his team-mates to chip in.

That England went in level at half-time was a travesty; but it was a travesty, sadly, of the players’ own creation. Miss followed miss, blunder followed blunder. Not just half-chances, or even good chances, but absolute sitters, the sort any professional feels he could score with his eyes shut.

Defensively, Tunisia had no answer to Kane, Jesse Lingard, Sterling and Dele Alli in England’s front line. From set-pieces, they could not handle John Stones and, largely, Maguire. England were dominating, winning every ball in the air, getting behind the full backs, working opportunities in the box.

Had they scored even half what they created they would probably have been safe. But the chances fell to everybody bar Kane. That, and a dubious penalty award from Colombian official Wilmar Roldan, went against them.

Walker, out of position as a rare cross came in, caught Ben Youssef with a trailing, extended arm. If Ben Youssef falls that easily when touched he must be a nightmare on public transport but Roldan bought it, pointed to the spot, and despite some conversation with the referee impersonators dressed in their kit in a television studio, was given no reason to consult a screen or change his mind. Against that, Ferjani Sassi’s finish from the spot was outstanding. He swept the ball into the side-netting to his left, even though Jordan Pickford guessed correctly. Yet it should have been little more than a consolation. It should have been an irrelevance: and here’s why.

his was England’s best performance in a tournament opener in many years. Much better than their last win, over Paraguay in 2006. Had the scoreline reflected England’s supremacy Southgate’s side would have laid down the most emphatic marker of any nation at this World Cup so far.

Instead, it was hard. You’ve heard commentators tell you how a player did the hard part, only to miss the goal. Ignore him; it’s rubbish. The goal is the hard part. That’s why strikers get the most money. Time and again, England did exactly what Southgate asked of them, got to the hard part, and flapped.

The game was only three minutes old when Jordan Henderson — whose passing range impressed — played a lovely ball over the top for Alli. Sterling couldn’t quite get on the end of it, but Lingard could and should have done better, his shot diverted around a post by the feet of goalkeeper Mouez Hassen. Just two minutes later, Alli played a beautiful reverse pass inside to release Lingard and his cross put Sterling in, the ball on a plate. What happened? He went for it with his wrong foot, somehow getting mixed up between that machine-gun right, and his lesser left, and sending the ball bobbling wide. There were 85 minutes to go and already the chance of the night had been spurned. It surely wasn’t going to get better than that.

Yet, it did. From an Ashley Young corner on 11 minutes, Stones’s header was palmed out by Hassen, but only as far as Kane, who turned it in. To make matters worse for Tunisia, the goalkeeper injured his shoulder making the save. He was replaced soon after by Ben Mustapha, but still England tried and failed in front of goal. Young hit a great cross after 24 minutes, but Lingard finished it woefully at the far post, scuffing the ball tamely wide. It was hoped the unexpected reverse of Tunisia’s equaliser would focus English minds. Sadly, no.

A 39th-minute goalmouth scramble saw Sterling miss the ball with an attempted overhead kick, then Stones miss it entirely trying a more conventional finish. Finally, Lingard went through one on one, slipping the ball past Ben Mustapha and then watching as it rolled agonisingly and hit the near post, diverting wide instead of straight out for a rebound finish.

Maybe Panama will give the rest of them the chance to get their eye in.

They need to, before what should be the group decider against Belgium. Kane can’t go it alone from here.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5857763/Tunisia-1-2-England-Harry-Kane-rescue-Captain-scores-injury-time-winner.html

De Futebol England Defeats Costa Rica 2-0

The guys final tune up before the World Cup begins June 14th England defeats Costa Rica 2-0.

The Daily Mail:” Elland Road no longer has its diamond lights, but fortunately England do.

Marcus Rashford illuminated England’s final public performance before departing for Russia next week, with a display that suggests he could make an impact at his first World Cup, even if he does not win a place in Gareth Southgate’s starting line-up.

England’s manager wasn’t looking for any great breakthroughs against Costa Rica, he almost certainly knows his starting line-up by now, but Rashford provided a reminder of the strength in depth, certainly in England’s forward line.

He scored a lovely goal, played a smart, neat pass in the build-up to England’s second, and delivered an energetic, bold 90 minutes, showing he was a serious contender for any of four forward positions in the event of injury – or certainly could be first off the bench if England seek to unlock a resilient defence.

This was Rashford’s night, one of those games when everyone wanted to play with him, certainly in the first-half when he was quite outstanding, albeit against limited opposition.

He was involved as players are when colleagues spot they have the wind behind them. Team-mates sought him out, even if there were easier options on. They could see he was buzzing, see he was the best player, that he was having a match that might just change the mind of his manager, and the pecking order in this squad.

They wanted to be a part of it, wanted to help him along, as mates do. Jordan Henderson fizzed forward passes his way, Fabian Delph and Danny Rose attempted clever one-twos to set him up.

Even when these did not come off, Rashford somehow made it work. Delph stuck one in to Rose, which he miscontrolled – but Rashford spared his embarrassment, scrambling to the touchline, keeping the ball in. This was his night, and everyone inside Elland Road knew that.

His name drew a smattering of boos when first read out. A Manchester United man, you see. By half-time he might as well have been one of their own. It wouldn’t do to bear a grudge, faced with a young man alight like this.

They don’t see talent like Rashford’s around these parts anymore, sadly. The days when Leeds produced England forwards have, for the moment, gone. So this was a thrill for them, as well as for him. One of the virtues of taking England around the country, particularly to grounds that do not see Premier League football, is the lighting of candles in the darkness. There were a lot of young faces here. They will remember seeing Rashford play – and score.

Usually, we question why players do not perform for England as they do for their clubs. With Rashford last night, it was the other way around. Where has this player been for Manchester United this season? What has Jose Mourinho done with him?

‘Now you see why I always pick Romelu Lukaku,’ Mourinho sneered after one tepid performance from his forward understudies, but can this be all the player’s fault? Rashford didn’t seem to lack confidence in an England shirt, didn’t appear reluctant to take risks, to run at defenders, to try his tricks, to shoot from range. He did everything that Manchester United wanted of him all season. So where has he been; and why so different?

The goal, of course, was his crowning glory. Rashford picked the ball up on the right, looked, saw Costa Rica backing off, saw goalkeeper Keylor Navas slightly off his line, and went for it.

At first it looked as if his shot had gone through Navas’s hands, Loris Karius style, but replays revealed the truth: the goalkeeper was simply caught out. It went over his hands and he was slow to react, it wasn’t his finest moment, but there was no handling error. Rashford simply beat him with power, dip, a lovely strike, his third in an England shirt.

Will it be enough to earn him a place in the starting line-up? One imagines he will have to maintain this in every training session between now and the eve of the match with Tunisia to change Southgate’s intentions.

The team is as good as picked. Only one player kept his place from Saturday’s win over Nigeria – John Stones at the back – and time is running out for a bolter.

Where would he play? Presuming Harry Kane’s position is secure, including Rashford would mean leaving out one of Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard or Raheem Sterling. Southgate would be unlikely to lose faith with any member of that trio on the back of an impressive display in a friendly. But, if it wasn’t working, if England couldn’t get the breakthrough? Southgate will surely recall this night when he is hailing his first cab off the rank.

In the circumstances – that many of the players out there must have known by now that they are squad men, when the tournament begins at least – this was a very decent performance.

What largely constitutes the shadow XI – Stones, Jordan Henderson and, possibly, Harry Maguire aside – looked committed and lively, even if the tempo did drop off after half-time as tends to happen in such encounters. Delph, certainly, did himself a favour with a hard-working stint in forward midfield, full of the vim and energy that might not have been apparent had populist favourites Jonjo Shelvey or Jack Wilshere been selected.

The game was nine minutes old when a Delph corner was met by a header from Phil Jones tipped over by Navas, and another set-piece almost extended England’s lead after 20 minutes.

Jones and Maguire both won headers and Jamie Vardy tried to pounce on the loose ball from close range, Navas doing well to smother. In the second-half, Henderson had a powerful shot saved, Maguire a header cleared off the line by Bryan Oviedo.

Ultimately, Rashford shared the goals with Danny Welbeck, whose second-half intervention showed why it is unfair to cast aspersions on his place in the squad, as so many do. Rashford worked a sweet little ball through to Alli whose cross was met by a diving header from Welbeck at the far post, his 16th England goal.

The margin of victory was no more than England deserved for an accomplished controlled display, that risked little in the way of physical injury, yet was commanding throughout.

At the other end, Jack Butland made one save from Johan Venegas but, frankly, Costa Rica were not up to much. They won’t be the same team as in 2014; thankfully, the same might be said of England.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5818157/England-2-0-Costa-Rica-Rashford-scores-sensational-long-range-effort-final-warm-friendly.html

De Futebol England defeats Nigeria 2-1

In the guy’s next to last final tune up England defeated Nigeria 2-1.

The Guardians Daniel Taylor:” The encouraging news for England is that Harry Kane is looking sharp, Raheem Sterling seems remarkably unaffected by all the recent scrutiny and, if Gareth Southgate’s team can play in the World Cup as they did here during the opening 45 minutes, perhaps it is not too outlandish to think they can make a decent impression in Russia after all.

Unfortunately that tells only part of the story and with England there always seems to be a cloud attached to every silver lining. Two-nil ahead at half-time, Southgate’s team looked on course to bid farewell to Wembley in style. As it was, the England manager must have been startled by their deterioration as Nigeria, such obliging opponents throughout the opening 45 minutes, pulled one back through Alex Iwobi and had enough of the ball thereafter to think they could have saved themselves.

That period was a stark reminder that England will fly to Russia on Tuesday week as very much a work in progress, pinning their hopes on a relatively inexperienced group of internationals.

Overall the good outweighed the bad but it was a close-run thing at times and Southgate must wonder why his players lost their momentum after such an impressive first-half performance, featuring goals from Gary Cahill and Kane and the clear impression of a team capable of playing slick, joined-up football.

They could not keep it up and that meant a rather awkward atmosphere after the final whistle when Southgate’s players gathered in the centre of the pitch for a choreographed show of togetherness.

Most of the crowd had already left although the ones who had stayed behind did return the players’ applause and, on the positive side, Southgate was so encouraged by the first-half display – “an excellent performance with the ball” – it is still perfectly conceivable this will be the team that starts against Tunisia in Volgograd on 18 June.

Southgate, in other words, has chosen not to employ orthodox wingers in a 3-5-2 system – or 3-3-2-2, to be entirely accurate – with Sterling operating in a central attacking position alongside Kane. Kieran Trippier and Ashley Young will be expected to provide the width as attacking full-backs. Dele Alli was chosen ahead of Ruben Loftus-Cheek, most probably because of the Tottenham Hotspur player’s understanding with Kane, and Jesse Lingard’s selection was another sign that Southgate wants two attacking midfielders who will make it their business to enter the opposition penalty area. Alli and Lingard have better scoring statistics than Loftus-Cheek and that counted in their favour.

Trippier, in the right-wing-back role, demonstrated his ability to deliver pinpoint crosses with the seventh-minute corner for Cahill’s headed goal and here, too, was evidence that Southgate’s preferred system allows Sterling to exert more of an influence than if he was playing on the wing.

Southgate admitted afterwards he gave serious consideration to dropping Sterling from his starting line-up because the Manchester City player reported a day late for training. Southgate decided against it because he did not want to add to the blizzard of headlines surrounding Sterling and the player looked determined to justify that decision. Sterling played as though he did not have a care in the world – a constant menace to the Nigerian defence with his speed, direct running and ability to create space for others. In the first half, anyway.

Unfortunately for Sterling, he is going through one of those periods in which he seems to have a magnetic attraction to controversy and, as Southgate has acknowledged, not all the criticism is unjustified. This one came in the form of a penalty-box dive seven minutes into the second half and, justifiably, he was shown a yellow card for his troubles. Sterling’s intention was to make it look as though the Nigeria goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, had brought him down when, in reality, it was the England player trying to initiate the contact. It was poor on Sterling’s part and the Italian referee, Marco Guida, did not fall into the trap.

Perhaps that moment summed up England’s nervousness at the start of the second half. Nigeria were so overwhelmed during the opening 45 minutes that their manager, Gernot Rohr, brought on four substitutes straight after the interval, as well as switching to a three-man defence – and that, according to Southgate, threw his own players.

England had looked entirely comfortable until that point but the complexion of the game changed when Odion Ighalo, the former Watford striker, cracked a shot against the post and Iwobi fired in the rebound.

England had plenty of defenders in close proximity. None could get to the ball ahead of Iwobi and suddenly the boisterous hordes of Nigerian fans behind that goal started to turn up the volume.

Kane had doubled England’s lead in the 39th minute from Sterling’s pass, firing in a right-footed shot from the edge of the penalty area and fortunate that Uzoho a made a pig’s ear of keeping it out.

In the second half, however, England’s front two were never so threatening and, as Southgate pointed out, if they lose their focus so badly in the World Cup “it might put you out”. At least England held on, but the game drifted rather aimlessly to its conclusion and Southgate will hope for a less erratic performance when Costa Rica are the opponents in Leeds on Thursday.”

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/jun/02/england-nigeria-match-report

De Futebol England names its squad for the 2018 World Cup

Southgate names his squad.  The Daily Mail:” Gareth Southgate has named England‘s least-experienced 23-man World Cup squad since 1962, with the group averaging just 19 caps per player.

Adding some experience is 32-year-old Chelsea defender Gary Cahill, who has 58 caps, while Southgate has opted for both Trent Alexander-Arnold and Kieran Trippier as vibrant right-back options.

Alexander-Arnold, 19, has been rewarded for his impressive form both in the Premier League and in Liverpool‘s superb Champions League campaign.

It is certainly a nod to the new era, with Southgate including just five players — Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Phil Jones and Cahill — who played in the last World Cup in 2014. Nobody in the squad has won a World Cup match.

Cahill, who hasn’t played in the last five England matches, has been given the nod despite appearing out of favour in the national set-up.

Liverpool’s Adam Lallana has not been included by Southgate following his troubles with hamstring injuries this season.

But it is a bold and youthful selection from Southgate, who has chosen a squad with an average age of just 26 years old.

As Sportsmail revealed on Tuesday, Joe Hart had received a phone call from Southgate to tell him he will not be on the plane to Russia, while Jack Wilshere also misses out.

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere was handed an international recall in March for the games against Holland and Italy, but was forced to withdraw 24 hours before the game in Amsterdam due to a minor knee injury and has not been able to make his way back into the fold.

‘I believe this is a squad which we can be excited about,’ Southgate said following the announcement.

‘It is a young group but with some really important senior players so I feel the balance of the squad is good, both in terms of its experience, its character and also the positional balance.

‘We have a lot of energy and athleticism in the team, but players that are equally comfortable in possession of the ball and I think people can see the style of play we’ve been looking to develop.

‘The selection process has been over months really, it’s not just been the last few weeks. We feel the team are improving and we want to continue that momentum.

‘The first call up for Trent Alexander-Arnold is well deserved. When we pick young players, it’s not just because they are young, it’s because their performances deserve it.

‘We’ve also had a couple of injuries with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Joe Gomez, which is a huge blow for them personally and disappointing for us.’

Elsewhere, Fabian Delph was named in the squad in place of Wilshere following his role in Manchester City’s title-winning campaign.

Manchester United’s Ashley Young and Danny Rose of Tottenham are England’s recognised left backs, which means Southampton’s Ryan Bertrand is placed on the standby list.

Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who spent the season on loan at Crystal Palace, also gains a place in the squad.

Tom Heaton, James Tarkowski, Lewis Cook, Jake Livemore and Adam Lallana have all been formally put on standby.

An attacking quartet of Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy, Marcus Rashford and Welbeck will make up England’s offensive options at Russia.

They kick off their campaign against Tunisia on June 18 before subsequent group games against Panama and Belgium.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-5735059/Englands-23-man-World-Cup-squad-announced-Gary-Cahill-Adam-Lallana-misses-out.html#ixzz5FhOQEdNR

De Futebol Late PK seals England’s Fate a one all Draw!

England gave up a late PK in their match against Italy. The guys tied one all.

The Guardian Andy Taylor:” Just as it was going so well for Gareth Southgate and his players England had their first experience of VAR and a referee using his fingers to make the ‘television’ sign that used to be reserved for games of charades rather than football. James Tarkowski was denied a happy ending to his England debut and, if nothing else, at least it did not take an absolute age for a decision to be made on the penalty that changed the complexion of the evening. For a few moments it had looked as if the official in charge of the monitor could not even elevate it to a position where it was visible. It was a strange ending and, when Lorenzo Insigne tucked the 88th-minute penalty past Jack Butland, that was the first goal England had conceded in six matches. Southgate can be pretty satisfied with that record bearing mind the shutouts include games against Germany and Brazil but the England players were clearly aggrieved after being so close to another encouraging result. The protestations felt entirely pointless, unless the players hoped Deniz Aytekin, the German referee, might run back for a second look and change his mind. Unlikely, and Insigne’s penalty cancelled out Jamie Vardy’s first-half goal. Vardy 1, VAR 1.

Amid all the arguments about whether it was the correct decision – strictly speaking, treading on a player’s foot constitutes a foul, accidental or not – presumably Southgate will also note the way Federico Chiesa, one of the Italian substitutes, went past Tarkowski to create the danger in the first place. It was not the first time the Burnley defender looked uneasy, which was probably to be expected on his first appearance, but at this level these are the kind of moments that can count against a player. England have only two more warm-up matches before the World Cup, against Nigeria and Costa Rica, and Tarkowski’s audition was not seamless.

The late drama spared the Azzurri the ordeal of going four successive games without scoring for the first time in their history and England, in turn, were denied a second successive 1-0 victory against one of the teams they always measure themselves against. Overall, however, it was still a reasonably encouraging night from Southgate’s players. Vardy’s goal was a reminder that Harry Kane’s absence need not be a grievous setback. Raheem Sterling had one of his better England performances and Jesse Lingard justified his selection on a night when Dele Alli was left out of the starting line-up for a second straight game. The one quality England did not lack was pace going forward and that, perhaps, has been the most encouraging part of the last two friendlies without Kane.

Italy certainly provided a sterner test than the Netherlands had in Amsterdam on Friday but, when England took a 27th-minute lead, it was refreshing to see the quick thinking of Southgate’s players, in particular the alertness from Lingard to win the ball from Marco Parolo in midfield and then sense what was possible when the same player clipped Sterling’s ankles for a free-kick. As the two Italians in closest proximity to the ball turned their backs, Lingard took the free-kick quickly out to his right to send Vardy running into the penalty area. The Leicester striker took a touch to steady himself and his shot was still rising as it flew inside the top corner.

Defensively, it was not quite so impressive from England and the home side were lucky, in particular, that Ciro Immobile could not apply a decisive finish from any of three chances inside the opening 16 minutes. Ashley Young might not be treated so leniently in the World Cup should he repeat his first-half challenge on Davide Zappacosta – a tackle that could easily have warranted a red card – and John Stones cannot expect to get away with his first-half mistakes.

Stones’ tendency to find problems that do not really exist is nothing new but it was still startling to see the way, twice in the opening three minutes, his carelessness left Immobile in a dangerous area. The second occasion was particularly alarming as Stones dithered, got his feet tangled up and gave the ball to his opponent, as the last man. Stones is coming up for 24 and, by now, should have grown out of these lapses of concentration.

He later had to go off, having taken a ball to the face, and in fairness to the Manchester City player it was once he had been removed that the team started to look vulnerable again. Southgate also gave Lewis Cook his debut as a substitute but the night will be remembered, ultimately, because of the late controversy and perhaps it was a useful lesson for England when the same technology will be in use at the World Cup.”

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/mar/27/england-italy-international-friendly-match-report

De Futebol England Defeats Holland 1-0 in a World Cup Tune Up Match

In preparation for 2018 World Cup England defeated the Netherlands 1-0.

The Guardians Daniel Taylor:” It is 49 years since England last won in Amsterdam, with Alf Ramsey as manager, Colin Bell scoring an 84th-minute winner and Emlyn Hughes winning his first cap, so Gareth Southgate and his players are entitled to feel pleased with themselves now they have recorded their first victory here against the Oranjesince the year man set foot on the moon.

After that kind of wait, perhaps it might be slightly impertinent to point out that we saw here why this is regarded as the worst Dutch side for a long time. England certainly chose obliging opponents and on this evidence, with the stadium barely half-full by the final whistle, it is very clear that a win against this lot cannot be considered the prize it once was.

Equally, England can still reflect on a satisfying evening after Jesse Lingard’s winning goal, a clean sheet for Jordan Pickford and – if we are to be grateful for small mercies – nothing too horrendous from the end decorated with St George’s flags.

Well, apart from the usual brainless attempt to drown out another country’s national anthem. Over two days, more than 100 England fans have been arrested but at least when it comes to the actual football it was the other country who should be the more embarrassed.

Not that anyone in the England set-up should get too carried away just yet. The game against Italy at Wembley on Tuesday should provide a more realistic gauge of England’s World Cup preparations and, even in victory, there are still legitimate questions to be asked of Southgate when his team selections show so little in the way of pattern or structure.

He started here with three players who usually operate as right-backs for their clubs, but without one actually playing as a right-back. Danny Rose’s selection in the left wing-back role shows Southgate must have abandoned his policy of not picking players who are out of favour at their clubs and it would be intriguing to know what Harry Maguire, James Tarkowski and Alfie Mawson made of Kyle Walker being asked to experiment as a centre-half.

As it happened, Maguire came on in the 10th minute because of an early injury for Joe Gomez, who plays right-back for Liverpool but started here on the left of England’s back three.

Confused? England should be glad this was such a poor Dutch side because the lack of clear strategy can seem bizarre, particularly when there are only three games now – or 270 minutes – to finalise their plans.

On that front, Southgate will at least have a better idea now why Rose has fallen out of favour with Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham. Rose was involved in the goal but his overall performance was poor and, on the other side, Kieran Trippier did not do enough to disprove the theory that Walker is better equipped for the role.

On a brighter note, England did show at times that they have a good mix of movement and speed in attack and, having offered very little during the first half, they are also entitled to think they should have been awarded a penalty six minutes after the restart. Marcus Rashford’s speed caught out Matthijs de Ligt and the goalkeeper, Jeroen Zoet, should not have come haring off his line.

Rashford was ahead of them both but the Spanish referee, Jesús Gil Manzano, was some way back and gave De Ligt the benefit of the doubt for the sliding tackle that brought down England’s striker.

England’s only noteworthy chance of the first half had come just after the half-hour mark when Jordan Henderson, probably England’s best player on the night, headed Trippier’s free-kick wide.

After the interval, however, they started to pass the ball with greater purpose and it became even clearer why this Dutch side have not qualified for the World Cup.

Ronald Koeman, their new manager, spoke afterwards about the slow tempo and lack of momentum when his team had the ball, plus a lack of creativity in attacking positions.

England hardly set the world alight on that front either, but they did have the pace of Rashford, Lingard and Raheem Sterling and when they took the lead, in the 59th minute, it was in the midst of their most productive spell of the match.

Lingard was involved in the move, spreading the ball to Rose on the left and then hung back to see if the ball might come back his way on the edge of the penalty area.

Stefan de Vrij’s attempt to clear the danger succeeded only in presenting the ball to his opponent and Lingard, 20 yards out, had the time and space to pick his spot.

His low shot was aimed to Zoet’s right and, though the goalkeeper did get his hand to the ball, he could not prevent it ending up in the bottom corner. After that, Southgate brought on Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy and Danny Welbeck in one go, with Ashley Young later replacing Rose.

England’s manager had said before the match that he wanted the newcomers in his squad to play with confidence and make the most of their opportunity.

Pickford did just that and, as Southgate pointed out, the team’s new first-choice goalkeeper was also involved at the start of the move that led to the goal. Yet Mawson, Tarkowski and Lewis Cook will have to hope they make their debuts on Tuesday.”
https://www.theguardian.com/football/2018/mar/23/netherlands-england-friendly-international-match-report

De Futebol

England wins the Under Twenty World Cup. The Guardians Ben Fisher:’ England Under-20s entered the history books after beating Venezuela in a frenetic World Cup final in South Korea to ensure the nation became world champions for the first time since 1966.

Lewis Cook held the trophy aloft after becoming the first England captain to lead his country to victory in a major global final since Sir Bobby Moore. A white sea of confetti slowly filled the pitch, with each England player taking hold of the trophy on the stage swiftly erected in Suwon to kick-start the celebrations.

Fikayo Tomori, the Chelsea defender, sang “championes, championes” with his winners’ medal swaying from side to side. For Joshua Onomah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles, England banners doubled up as celebratory bandanas. More than 5,600 miles away Gareth Southgate, Adam Lallana and the rest of the senior squad huddled around a laptop at their France training base – before Tuesday’s friendly in Paris – to witness the next generation write history.

Southgate will speak to Paul Simpson, the under-20s manager, after the win and has kept regular dialogue during the tournament. The squad also received a pre-match good luck letter from the Duke of Cambridge.

Freddie Woodman was ultimately the hero after making a superb 74th-minute penalty save to deny Adalberto Peñaranda. Woodman, the son of former Northampton Town goalkeeper Andy and godson of Southgate, made a steely left-handed save from the spot-kick after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had given England a first-half lead.

Simpson, the former Shrewsbury Town manager, had urged his players to seize the opportunity and attain “legendary status” and with this victory in Suwon his class of 2017 did not disappoint. Calvert-Lewin began this season as a second-half substitute for Sheffield United in a 2-1 domestic cup competition defeat by Crewe Alexandra but finished it as only the third England player to score in a World Cup final. Calvert-Lewin, who joined Everton last summer, scored what proved to be the winning goal before Woodman’s second-half heroics.

These are exciting times for England and particularly for this group. Six of this side won the Under-17s European Championship in 2014 and the attacking trio from Everton and Liverpool – Ademola Lookman, Dominic Solanke and Calvert-Lewin – had an excellent tournament. Solanke was presented with the golden boot and Woodman with the golden glove. Each player, though, proved more than their worth over a campaign that began when Simpson’s squad convened at St George’s Park on 8 May. Perhaps these are some of the fruits of the FA’s purpose-built 330-acre site at Burton-on-Trent.

Simpson tweaked his lineup from the one that prevailed against Italy in the semi-finals, with Tottenham’s Onomah returning from suspension to replace Arsenal’s Maitland-Niles. Onomah strutted around the England midfield with a classy authority and rattled the woodwork with a thunderous second-half effort that pinballed from the underside of the bar and the goalline before Venezuela cleared.

England played positive, attacking football and Solanke, who will formally join Liverpool from Chelsea next month,squandered a couple of early chances, scuffing his shot inside the box and skewing wide from distance with another. He then turned provider, laying off to Lookman, who held off a challenge before forcing Wuilker Faríñez, the Venezuela goalkeeper, into a two-handed save after 22 minutes.

Venezuela did not shrink into their shells, however, and Ronaldo Lucena’s ambitious free-kick from 40 yards out exemplified the confidence flowing through Rafael Dudamel’s side, who beat Germany and Uruguay en route to the final. Woodman was beaten but Lucena’s swerving, dipping effort crashed into his right post.

Dudamel’s involvement is a compliment to the country’s next generation, given he is also the coach of Venezuela’s senior team, who already have eyes on the 2022 World Cup after a disastrous qualifying campaign for Russia 2018.

England kept knocking at the door, though, with Calvert-Lewin sending a tame header at goal before Cook, the Bournemouth midfielder, supplied the striker with a lofted pass. It was a goal that showcased all of the 20-year-old’s qualities as he outjumped Nahuel Ferraresi to win the header and shot at Faríñez with his right foot before slotting home the rebound with his left. Shortly after that Lookman supplied Calvert-Lewin with another chance but Faríñez did well to quickly stifle the onrushing striker.

Venezuela never relented and Peñaranda sent a curling 25-yard free-kick agonisingly close but the Watford midfielder, with unmissable bleach-blond hair, saw his effort fly just wide of Woodman’s goal. After the half-time interval, the South American side went on the offensive. The substitute Yeferson Soteldo slid through a perfectly weighted ball for Sergio Córdova but with only the goalkeeper to beat, Woodman smothered with his legs. Then Yangel Herrera, who joined Manchester City in January – unmarked from a corner – headed downward only for Woodman to again claim the ball.

Venezuela, who introduced the exciting 17-year-old Samuel Sosa late on, pressed forward and eventually carved out a golden opportunity to level. Jake Clarke-Salter, the Chelsea defender, upended Peñaranda inside the box and after consulting the threesome of video officials inside the Suwon World Cup stadium, the referee, Bjorn Kuipers, pointed to the spot. Woodman denied Peñaranda from 12 yards, with the England goalkeeper, who dived low to his right, making a strong left-handed save to claw the ball away from danger. And just like that, after this courageous, fearless display, an arduous 51-year wait is over.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/jun/11/venezuela-england-under-20-world-cup-final-match-report

Brasil wins! The guys are at the head of the class

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Brasil defeated Venezuela 2-0 to jump to the head of the class with 21 points. Uruguay and Colombia tied two all to drop the Uruguayans into second place with 20 points.

The big surprise was Argentina losing to Paraguay 1-0. Argentinos is fifth place with 16 points.

The top four places earn the automatic berth in the World Cup while fifth place earns a berth in the play in match to see who gets a World Cup berth.

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UOL: Os 100% de aproveitamento com Tite já permitiram à seleção brasileira dar um salto na classificação das Eliminatórias da Copa do Mundo. Nesta terça-feira, em Mérida, o Brasil fez 2 a 0 contra a Venezuela e, beneficiado pelo empate do Uruguai em visita à Colômbia, alcançou a primeira posição com 21 pontos.

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A exemplo do que ocorreu nos últimos dois jogos, o Brasil comprovou sua boa fase logo de cara. Com 8 minutos de jogo, Gabriel Jesus abriu o marcador sobre a Venezuela após um erro bizarro do goleiro Hernández. Seguro em campo apesar de não contar com Neymar, suspenso, o time brasileiro confirmou o triunfo com gol de Willian. A partida chegou a ser paralisada por um apagão.

A seleção brasileira volta a campo contra uma pressionada Argentina em Belo Horizonte no dia 19 de novembro. Na mesma sequência, visita a seleção peruana.

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Além de anotar o gol brasileiro, o atacante foi o jogador mais perigoso. Mesmo sem Neymar por perto, o que diminuiu um pouco da presença ofensiva da equipe, Gabriel incomodou os zagueiros venezuelanos e teve pelo menos mais três oportunidades de marcar, além de ter dado assistência a Coutinho. Mas, nada mal: com menos de 20 anos, já tem quatro gols em quatro jogos pela seleção principal, marca inédita em toda a história das Eliminatórias.

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Um erro bizarro do goleiro venezuelano na saída de bola permitiu ao Brasil rapidamente abrir o marcador em Mérida com uma bela finalização de Gabriel Jesus.

Na ausência de Neymar, a seleção brasileira obviamente perdeu parte de seu brilho. Por outro lado, teve pelas beiradas dois jogos mais ativos na marcação, com Willian e Coutinho. Assim, bem compacto, o Brasil teve facilidade para controlar o jogo com boa posse de bola, na faixa de 66%, e sofreu poucos sustos na defesa com o time bem ordenado.

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Com Guerra, campeão da última Copa Libertadores no banco de reservas, a Venezuela tentou propor o jogo contra o Brasil. A exemplo dos últimos jogos, o garoto Peñaranda foi um dos membros mais ativos e deu trabalho a Daniel Alves. As finalizações ruins, entretanto, minimizaram as chances dos donos da casa, praticamente fora da luta por vaga na Copa do Mundo 2018.

http://esporte.uol.com.br/futebol/ultimas-noticias/2016/10/11/venezuela-x-brasil.htm

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England wins 2-0 in World Cup Qualifying match against Malta

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England defeats Malta 2-0 in World Cup qualifying match. The Guardian: “Gareth Southgate has been in the job under a fortnight but already he can be added to the list of England managers whose team have been booed at Wembley. Admittedly it was only a smattering this time, rather than the mutinous soundtrack that accompanied Roy Hodgson’s last match, but the mixed reaction at the final whistle was a pointed reminder that England will need more than a 2-0 victory against Malta before they have retrieved some credibility.

Southgate should probably not take it too personally after being parachuted into the role on an emergency basis, but he could probably be forgiven for wishing that his team had been able to add a few more goals against a Malta side that looked ripe for a good old-fashioned thrashing.

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Roberto Mancini was here as a guest and, though it would be a leap of logic to assume the former Manchester City manager is being primed for the job, he is currently out of work and has talked before about fancying a stab at managing England. Southgate needs his team to impress during his four matches as caretaker manager if he is to be offered the job full-time and, on that basis, he must be disappointed his team had to settle for the first-half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli.

To put it into context, Malta arrived at Wembley with the grand total of two wins in the last three years, those victories coming against the footballing superpowers of Lithuania and Faroe Islands. Malta’s current position in Fifa’s world rankings, 176th, puts them level with Laos, though just behind Suriname, Vanuatu, Cambodia and Tahiti, and is the lowest they have dropped since the system was devised almost a quarter of a century ago. Scotland have already beaten them 5-1 in this qualifying programme though, in fairness, England could have won even more convincingly had it not been for a splendid performance from Andrew Hogg, Malta’s Surrey-born goalkeeper.

England certainly had enough of the ball to reflect that it should have been a much more emphatic scoreline but, equally, the second half also featured a slightly awkward five-minute spell when the crowd started entertaining themselves, flashing up their mobile phones in the way that people used to wave cigarette lighters at Elton John concerts. An attendance not far off 82,000 is mightily impressive given everything England have endured since they were last here, shortly before Euro 2016, but the crowd undeniably wanted more to help the healing process.

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Southgate’s men knew their own superiority and perhaps that explains why they plodded through long spells while also giving the impression that if they could be bothered to take the occasion a little more seriously they might have scored a hatful. They kept the crowd waiting almost half an hour before Sturridge’s precise header gave them the lead. Alli’s goal came nine minutes later and from that point onwards it was an exercise in damage-limitation for Malta. In truth, it probably always was.

When the opposition are this limited, it is certainly difficult to form any lasting conclusions about Wayne Rooney’s capabilities as a midfielder. Jesse Lingard, winning his first cap, should be aware it is not always this easy and Joe Hart must wonder if he will ever have a more straightforward assignment.

Malta managed one shot throughout the entire game and Hart duly ticked off the 36th clean sheet of his international career, moving ahead of Gordon Banks into third in the all-time list of England shut-outs – four behind David Seaman and 30 adrift of Peter Shilton. Hart spent so long as a spectator he ran 40 yards to check on Ryan Bertrand after the hamstring injury that restricted England’s left-back to only 19 minutes.

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A better time to judge Southgate’s impact will come after the game in Slovenia on Tuesday, followed by the double-header against Scotland and Spain next month, but what is clear is that he concurs with Sam Allardyce and Hodgson – though evidently not José Mourinho – that Rooney’s best position is now in a deep-lying role where he can dictate play and decorate games with showy passes to the wide positions.

Alli took up the classic No10 role, albeit that being Rooney’s shirt number, with Theo Walcott and Lingard operating on the wings in a 4-2-3-1 system. There was not, however, a great deal of width or penetration. Lingard did reasonably well but it was understandable if the crowd craved Marcus Rashford’s sense of adventure. Rashford replaced Walcott midway through the second half but England continued to play the game at three-quarter pace and Hogg had strong credentials to be recognised as the game’s outstanding performer. Malta’s goalkeeper was a little slow, perhaps, when Sturridge headed in Jordan Henderson’s cross for the first goal but he spared his team on at least half-a-dozen occasions.

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Henderson was also involved in England’s second goal, breaking through midfield before Alli whipped in a right-footed shot from just inside the penalty area. Hogg saved the first effort but Alli darted forward to stab in the rebound, showing much more determination then the nearest defender, Andrei Agius, to get to the ball first.

From that stage, England might have been expected to have a lot more fun at Malta’s expense. Instead, they huffed and puffed to the end, making a comfortable win also feel like a slightly unsatisfactory one, and featuring audible boos for Rooney after one moment of carelessness.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/oct/08/england-malta-world-cup-qualifying-match-report