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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

After Aurier was sent off, the coast was clear for England to run out 3-0 winners at Wembley


By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium


England 3 v Ivory Coast 0


As friendlies go, this was quite an aggressive one, at least to start with, but when reduced to 10-men, Ivory Cost retreated to their penalty area to shut up shop, England only scored twice after that, deep into the end of both halves having taken a 1-0 lead on 30 minutes.

A goal from Brentford’s Ollie Watkins will be something he will always remember, but when ex-Spurs defender Serge Aurier was handed his marching orders on 40 minutes, the game ended as a serious contest.

Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings gave the scoreline a respectability it just about deserved.

Harry Maguire the Manchester United captain was booed both times by sections of the crowd before kick-off and when he made his first touch in anger on the pitch.

As for the game, while the Three Lions started on the front foot, the Ivory Coast players were very aggressive - Watkins, Sterling and Jude Bellingham felt the full force of the Africans’ tackling.

Bellingham should have scored on 15 minutes after some intricate play saw the Borussia Dortmund player clip a near post effort off goalkeeper Badri Ali Sangare, and then off the upright.

Grealish tried something similar on 20 minutes, but Sangare was equal to the task.

But England’s dominance paid off on 30 minutes. Sterling latched onto the ball on the left, inside the Ivorians penalty area. He produced a lovely dinky step-over which flummoxed Aurier and then slid the ball across the six-yard box. Sangare failed to intercept it and Watkins, at the far post, tapped the ball home for his first goal at senior level.

With four minutes left on the clock, Belgium referee sent off Ex-Spurs defender Aurier.

It was his second booking - Tunis time for a foul on Watkins.

It looked as if Grealish was appealing to the referee not to send him off but the appeal was met with deaf ears.

England took full advantage and went two up on 45 minutes.

His shot was initially saved by Sangare, Grealish picked it up and passed back to Sterling who cooly slotted home.

Gareth Southgate made one substitution at half-time, replacing Ben White with Kyle Walker-Peters.

Within seconds of the restart substitute Fousseny Coulibaly got the ball first before upending Bellingham in the away side’s penalty area.

The referee pointed to the penalty spot. But VAR intervened - advised him to check his pitch-side monitor, which he duly did and he rightly reversed his decision.

As expected on 61 minutes, Southgate made four substitutions, on came Harry Kane, Phil Foden, Emile Smith Rowe and Luke Shaw.

Off came Tyrick Mitchell, Grealish, Sterling, and Watkins.

James Ward-Prowse tried his luck on 68 minutes from long-range. The ball inched over the Ivory Coast crossbar.

The African’s should have scored on 78 minutes when a brilliant curling free-kick from the right was meet by Simon Deli. Unchallenged on the six-yard box, he tried a volley but smashed the ball instead high over Nick Pope’s crossbar.

On came Conor Gallagher for Ward-Prowse.

Deep into added time, Tyrone Mings, direct from a corner, headed the ball downwards and it crashed off the pitch and thumped the underside of the top of the net to make it 3-0 to England.

Much will be made of the needless sending off, turning a potentially tough friendly into a non-event, but Watkins won’t mind, Gallagher will be happy with more senior minutes and the class of Bellingham shone whenever he touched the ball.

for Yann Tear‘s player ratings go here


Teams: Pope, White, Mitchell, rice, Mings, Maguire, Sterling, Ward-Prowse, Watkins, Bellingham, Grealish

Subs: Forster, Shaw, Henderson, Guehi, Cody, Walker-Peters, Foden, Mount, Kane, Gallagher, Pickford, Smith Rose


Ivory Coast, Badri Ali Sangare, Seri, Kessie, Cornet, Kamara, Gradel, Aurier, Pepe, Bailly, Haller, Deli

Subs, Cisse, Kane, Diallo, Konon, Agadou, Boly, Kouassi, Coulibaly, Ibrahim Sangare, Akouokou, Konate, Boli

Referee: Erik Lambrechts. (Belgium)

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