England overcome Romania, Lukaku stars in Belgium victory - GulfToday

England overcome Romania, Lukaku stars in Belgium victory


England’s Marcus Rashford scores a goal against Romania during their friendly match on Sunday. Reuters

Marcus Rashford’s penalty earned England an unconvincing 1-0 win over Romania in their final warm-up friendly ahead of Euro 2020 in Middlesbrough on Sunday.

However, victory for Gareth Southgate’s men was again overshadowed by booing from supporters as the players took the knee before kick-off.

Southgate’s selection will also be questioned as he named an experimental line-up with five players who are not part of his final squad making an appearance at some point in the game.

There is still one place up for grabs in Southgate’s 26-man squad, though, due to an injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold.

James Ward-Prowse, Ben Godfrey and Ben White were all given the chance to further their case from the start, while Jesse Lingard and Ollie Watkins came off the bench in the second-half.

An inexperienced side could have done without the distraction of more boos from the crowd at the Riverside as they took the knee before kick-off.

After similar scenes ahead of Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Austria, Southgate insisted on Saturday that the Three Lions will continue to make the gesture against racial injustice throughout Euro 2020.

Once the action did get underway, a second-string home side struggled without captain Harry Kane or any Chelsea and Manchester City players due to their participation in last weekend’s Champions League final.

Ward-Prowse did the most to justify a place in the squad with an all-action display in midfield and the Southampton skipper’s delivery from set-pieces was also on show.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin powered his in-swinging free-kick against the crossbar before Jadon Sancho also struck the woodwork.

At the other end Sam Johnstone had an impressive England debut as he made a smart save from Nicole Stanciu to ensure Southgate’s men did not trail at the break.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson made his return from 106 days out injured at half-time for a much-needed 45 minutes for his match fitness.

Jack Grealish was England’s one constant menace as the Romanians repeatedly resorted to hauling down the Aston Villa man.

However, that tactic cost them the only goal when Grealish was clipped by Tiberiu Capusa as he broke into the box.

Rashford, who became the 125th man to captain England, took responsibility from the spot to send Florin Nita the wrong way. Johnstone then had to make a stunning stop to earn his clean sheet by turning Andrei Ivan’s fierce effort over.

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku underlined his status as one of the world’s top strikers with his 60th international goal to secure a 1-0 win over Croatia.

Lukaku struck from a goalmouth scramble in the 38th minute to win the match for the top-ranked Belgians, who will start the Euros in confident mood after a convincing performance.

They shrugged off a bright start from Croatia to enjoy a comfortable victory, which might have had a more commanding scoreline had they taken all of their chances, as they confirmed their status as one the Euro 2020 favourites.

The goal came when fellow European Championship contenders Croatia failed to clear a corner and Lukaku was first to swivel and hook the ball home after Jason Denayer laid it on for him.

The Netherlands completed their Euro 2020 preparations on Sunday with a 3-0 over Georgia.

Frank de Boer’s Dutch team will be aiming to make a big impression at their first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup and play all their Group C matches with Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia in Amsterdam.

Denmark, who are dark horses for the Euro, also go into the tournament on a high after seeing off Bosnia and Herzegovina 2-0 in Brondby.

Goals from Martin Braithwaite and Andreas Cornelius were enough for Kasper Hjulmand’s side to grab the win ahead of their opening fixture with Finland in Copenhagen on Saturday.

In Group B, they will also face Russia and Belgium, who play 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia later on Sunday.

Austria drew 0-0 with Slovakia while Scotland scraped a 1-0 win over 10-man Luxembourg ahead of their first major international tournament appearance for 23 years.

Scotland head into their first major international tournament for 23 years on the back of a win as Che Adams’ goal saw off 10-man Luxembourg 1-0 on Sunday. The Southampton striker swept home his second international goal since switching his allegiance to Scotland in March on 28 minutes from Lydon Dykes’ layoff.


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