England v Belgium: international football friendly – live | Friendlies


Key events

42 mins: Sels catches the cross.

41 mins: Onana refuses to let Mainoo get past him after being nutmegged, and England have a free-kick on the right flank in a promising crossing position.

39 mins: England are playing pretty well. The quality of players they have at their disposal these days is ridiculous, but so is the comfort with which they play international football – this is where Gareth Southgate has excelled. But the depth of talent is not the same in defence as it is in attack, and individual errors do happen. Better to get them out of their systems now rather than in the summer.

England 1-2 Belgium (Tielemans, 36 mins)

That’s a beautifully-taken goal, but England are their own worst enemies again. The home side put together a lovely attack but it breaks down and Belgium break. Tielemans plays a long diagonal pass towards Lukaku, which Dunk makes an absolute hash of defending, and Lukaku then plays a delicious outside-of-the-boot cross back into the path of Tielemans, who heads in!

Belgium’s Youri Tielemans scores their second goal. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters
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33 mins: Close! Belgium try to play the ball out from the goal kick but Mainoo takes it off Mangala’s toes and it goes to Bellingham, unmarked and 10 yards from goal, who also skies his shot! Had it gone in there would have been a decision to make about whether Mainoo had fouled Mangala, but no need.

32 mins: Now Foden pops up in the middle and plays a blind pass to Bowen on the right. He gets into the area, cuts onto his left foot and then skies his shot.

29 mins: Foden has been quiet, his most notable contribution being the pass back to Pickford that led to Belgium’s goal. He plays a nice pass to Chilwell, bursting down the left, but the full-back’s run is well defended.

27 mins: England have a goal disallowed! The corner is played deep, beyond the far post, where Dunk heads it back into the mixer, and Bowen nods in. But the West Ham forward is very much offside when Dunk heads the ball – though VAR spends a curious amount of time working this out – and it remains 1-1.

26 mins: Bowen passes to Bellingham, bursting into the area, and his pull-back from the byline is cleared by Zeno Dabast, two yards out, somehow clearing his bar when an own-goal seemed more likely.

25 mins: “Sorry to cavil Simon, but how does the need for a defensive rejig cause Pickford to pass the ball to an opponent?” asks Geoff Wignall. “They didn’t change their shirt colour when Stones departed.” Fair question. I meant that it will have contributed to the uncertainty with which England defended the Belgium attack that immediately preceded that moment.

21 mins: An excellent counter from England, Mainoo to Toney, back to Mainoo and across to Bellingham, working the ball from well inside their own half to the edge of Belgium’s penalty area. Bellingham then has a shot when perhaps he could have looked for a pass/cross, and it’s blocked by a defender.

20 mins: Save! Doku jinks and shimmies infield from the left and shoots low and hard towards the far post, but Pickford pushes it away from danger.

GOAL! England 1-1 Belgium (Toney, 17 mins)

There’s a chunky delay while the penalty award is checked by the VAR, and another while the referee has a word with the Belgian goalkeeper Matz Sels, at the end of which Toney executes an excellent penalty, sending Sels one way and stroking the ball the other.

Ivan Toney scores. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
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16 mins: Ivan Toney is back on his feet, and has the ball in his hands.

Penalty to England!

15 mins: Bellingham plays the ball through to Toney, who gets in front of Vertonghen. The veteran defender throws out a foot, Toney goes down, and the referee points to the spot!

Ivan Toney is fouled for a penalty. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
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14 mins: England had just reorganised their defence, with Konsa moving from right-back to the centre and Gomez slotting in on the right, which will have had something to do with it.

GOAL! England 0-1 Belgium (Tielemans, 11 mins)

An absolute stinker of a goal for England to concede! They struggle to defend a Belgium attack but finally win the ball, and in the left-back position Foden plays it back to Pickford, outside the left side of his area. Under no pressure Pickford completely fluffs his clearance, hits it straight to a light blue shirt and it’s instantly played to Tielemans, who cleverly sends his shot into the corner of the net that Pickford has just sprinted past on his way to the other one.

Youri Tielemans scores. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian
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10 mins: Joe Gomez replaces Stones.

9 mins: It looks like that Stones error injured more than his pride – he’s drawn the physios’ attention to a muscle injury, and it looks like his night is over.

8 mins: In news from elsewhere news, Georgia have qualified for their first ever major tournament, and are quite happy. Cue a pitch invasion, and scenes. Greece, champions 20 years ago, are out.

Georgia’s players celebrate winning the EURO 2024 qualifying play-off final against Greece. Photograph: Giorgi Arjevanidze/AFP/Getty Images
A Georgia fan with a flare on the pitch celebrates qualifying for Euro 2024. Photograph: Irakli Gedenidze/Reuters
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6 mins: Stones gives the ball away to Lukaku really clumsily, but the Belgian fluffs his pass to Tielemans.

3 mins: Bellingham gets the crowd cooing by holding off a defender on the right flank and backheeling a pass through to Bowen. The linesman then gets the crowd moaning by raising his flag.

2 mins: Then Belgium hare down the other end, but Trossard chips a diagonal cross out of play.

1 min: Bowen gets down the right and crosses, Toney gets in front of his marker and volleys. But the cross is behind him, and though he volleys goalwards his own hand is directly in the ball’s path between foot and net. Free kick.

1 min: They’re off! And England have a chance 20 seconds later!

They have now emerged, anthems have been sung, and members of the British armed forces are currently occupied clearing the field of massive flags and assorted detritus. Next, football.

The players are in the tunnel, and exchanging hand-clasps and chest-bumps.

Richard Hirst has decoded Declan Rice’s various statements and concluded that “getting the win would be the hundreds and thousands sprinkled on the icing”. and furthermore says I have “obviously haven’t been to enough children’s parties”. I’ve been to plenty of children’s parties, and would say that from what I have learned there if anything the win would be an eBay-sourced edible-ink rice paper image of the Octonauts.

Declan Rice says his captaincy style is to “put everyone else before me”, and thinks his midfield partnership with Kobbie Mainoo will be grand – “I think it’ll be the perfect balance.”

To reach 50 caps is a real honour and to have the armband on is the icing on the cake. Just hope we can get the win which would top off the night. I’m not putting too much pressure on myself, I’m going to go out there, be myself and help everyone where I can. We want to go out, be on the front foot, be fast, be sharp, and we need to win the game.

So to be clear, having the armband is the icing on the cake, but getting a win would top off the icing on the cake.

It’s been a terribly damp evening in north London thus far, and as Channel 4’s coverage starts all involved – including Marouane Fellaini to provide some Belgian expertise – are sheltering under big golf brollies. Of course, it’s a classic Wembley look.

Steve McClaren, manager of England, looks on from under his umbrella prior to the Euro 2008 Group E qualifying match against Croatia at Wembley Stadium. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
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Whatever happens at Wembley, I’m pretty sure the goal of the day has already been scored*:

* For those who can’t see the video, it’s Marcis Oss of Latvia scoring an own goal from an improbable angle after 14 seconds of a game against Liechtenstein. Pretty special. The game is currently tied at 1-1 with three minutes to play.

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The teams!

Team news is in, and it looks like this. Kobbie Mainoo starts, alongside Jarrod Bowen, Lewis Dunk and Ivan Toney.

England: Pickford, Konsa, Dunk, Stones, Chilwell, Bellingham, Rice, Bowen, Foden, Mainoo, Toney. Subs: Ramsdale, Trafford, Gallagher, Watkins, Gordon, Gomez, Henderson, Branthwaite, Lewis, Rashford, Maddison, Palmer.
Belgium: Sels, Castagne, Debast, Vertonghen, Theate, Tielemans, Onana, Mangala, Doku, Lukaku, Trossard. Subs: Kaminski, Bodart, Faes, Openda, Lukebakio, Meunier, Deman, Bakayoko, Vermeeren, Vranckx, Batshuayi, De Winter.
Referee: Sebastian Gishamer (Austria).

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Preamble

Belgium’s golden generation are becoming increasingly silver-haired, and perhaps it is now England’s turn to benefit from a crop of wonderful talents. But even with Kevin de Bruyne injured (Romelu Lukaku, who wasn’t fit enough to play in the goalless draw in Ireland at the weekend, takes the armband) they have enough quality to bother an under-strength home side without Harry Kane, Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire. “Can we win? We’re going to try,” said Jeremy Doku. Domenico Tedesco’s side had not failed to score in 10 games with him in charge before their trip to Dublin. “We need to be brave, with open and positive football,” Tedesco said. “It is an ideal opportunity to test us at the very highest level. England may be missing some players, but that makes them anything but weak.”

Well time will tell on that front. Kobbie Mainoo and Ivan Toney are confirmed starters, the latter getting a chance to press his claims to be Harry Kane’s understudy. You can argue about their overall quality but he seems as close as you could hope to get to Kane’s skillset so more of a straight swap should it be needed, but he could do with an international goal to boost his argument.

Here’s David Hytner’s match preview, focusing on the man who will captain the team this evening, Declan Rice. I’ll be back shortly with the teams.

It is a story that bears retelling mainly because it will make people smile. It was early last week, the England squad have joined up at St George’s Park for the Wembley friendlies against Brazil and Belgium, and Declan Rice bumps into John Stones. So, Arsenal versus Manchester City and, as everybody knows, it is Arsenal versus Manchester City after the international break – at the Etihad Stadium this Sunday. Well, not everybody, as it turns out.

“I said: ‘Big game next,’” Rice says. “And John said: ‘Who are you playing?’ And I said: ‘We’ve got you lot!’ He said: ‘Oh yeah.’ He didn’t even know they were playing us next! When he’s away from football he likes to be with his family and switch off and I get that. He likes to take one game at a time.”

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