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  • Writer's pictureBy Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

Watkins wins it for England, but it was dour 90 minutes at Wembley against Australia

England v Australia team sheet Picture by Paul Lagan

By Paul Lagan at Wembley Stadium

England 1 v Australia 0


Ollie Watkins scored the only goal of the game – a second-half far post tap-in, as England beat a committed yet limited Australia at Wembley tonight in a friendly international.

The visitors should have taken a first-half lead but wayward finishing against a weary, disjointed-looking England kept it level, before the Aston Villa hitman struck the decisive winner in the second half.

As a game of international football, it was just about so-so.

For the confirmed 81,116 in attendance, it was probably a bit of a night out before the weekend.

The exodus to the Tube station long before the end of the match suggested punters were happy to get away early.

This was not a match that kept them seated with the prospect of last-gasp entertainment.

Granted there were a fair few kids there too where it was well past their bedtime.

This was no Ashes decider, this was no dramatic last-kick winner to win a Rugby World Cup, but this was England v Australia and they usually have a bit of fire, a bit of aggressive tension - a bit of on-field flare.

Sadly none was in evidence – a little bit of argy-bargy by Chelsea's Levi Colwill, which earned the defender a yellow card, was as good as it got.

England will point to Tuesday's Euro qualifier as of greater significance in footballing terms. And it was expected that this would be an almost second string England starting 11.

Jarrod Bowen was instrumental in England's first foray into the Australian final third. He, Fikayo Tomori and Conor Gallagher combined well on the right, with the Chelsea skipper sending across s low ball, which was not met by any player in a while shirt and the ball was cleared to safety.

The visitors had started well, forcing the Three Lions back to their penalty area. But gradually, with increased possession of the ball, England took control of the game.

But with just one kick, it can all change and on 12 minutes, Keanu Baccus arrowed in a fierce curling right footer that forced Sam Johnstone into an acrobatic diving save to his left, which and he pushed the goal-bound effort around the post for a corner.

When England lost the ball on 22 minutes, a quick break by the Aussies saw Harry Souttar with a fine volley, 10 yards out, that zipped inches wide of Johnstone's left upright.

Australia should have had a least one goal by the 30th minute. A piece of pinball in the England six-yard box saw the ball eventually whacked over Johnstone's crossbar.

Seconds later, Ollie Watkins almost put the home side ahead, when he squeaked the ball from angle past Matthew Ryan, but the ball tipped off the far post and was cleared before Bowen could pounce

Levi Colwill, on his debut was given a yellow card by referee Stephanie Frappart for his pushing away of Baccus on 34 minutes.

He was quickly followed by his Chelsea team-mate Gallagher for a needless and late challenge.

A sensational goal-line clearance by Lewis Dunk spared England's blushes on 45 minutes when Ryan Strain, free on the right beat Johnstone, but the Brighton defender Dunk was on hand to clip the ball over the crossbar.

There were no changes by either side at half-time.

The Three Lions finally got the ball in he back of the net on 58 minutes.

A deep cross to the far post by Trent Alexander-Arnold was collected by Jack Grealish. His low drive went across goal but was tapped in at the far post by in-running Watkins.

This gave manager Gareth Southgate the chance to make changes, off went Grealish, on came Marcus Rashford. Also off went Henderson, Tomori, and Gallagher - on came John Stones, Kieran Tripper and Kalvin Phillips

Henderson got some boos from the crowd when his name was read out over the PA system before the game, and that was echoed when he was substituted.

These four were soon followed by Phil Foden and Eddie Nketiah, off went Watkins and Maddison.

The changed failed to produce any significant goal action.

Both sets of players looked content to get the game over and into a nice hot shower.

Thankfully only three minutes were needed before that was allowed.


Teams: England: Johnstone, Alexander-Arnold, Colwill, Gallagher, Dunk, Tomori, Grealish, Henderson, Watkins, Maddison, Bowen

Subs: Ramsdale, Pickford, Tripper, Maguire, Walker, Stones, Guehi, Rice, Rashford, Kane, Foden, Phillips, Bellingham, Nketiah.

Australia: Ryan, Burgess, Rowles, Boyle, Metcalfe, Goodwin, Strain, Duke, Souttar, Baccus, Irvine

Subs: Glover, Redmayne, Degenek, Bos, Silvera, Borrello, Mabil, O'Neill, Behich, Miller, Luongo, Circati, Robertson, Yazbek, Toure.

Referee: Stephanie Frappart (France)


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