England 3-0 Republic of Ireland: Fringe players shine as Three Lions cruise to friendly win

By Sports Desk November 12, 2020

England warmed up for their upcoming Nations League double-header by cruising to a 3-0 friendly win over the Republic of Ireland at Wembley.

Harry Maguire and Jadon Sancho were on target in the first half of Thursday's encounter, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin's emphatic penalty completing a routine outing after the break.

Manager Gareth Southgate will now have plenty to think about after a strong showing from a number of England's fringe players prior to matches with Belgium and Iceland.

The visitors' hopes of earning a first ever Wembley win were dealt a blow when John Egan was forced off early on after taking a bang to the head.

Ireland probed with a couple of dangerous low crosses but England hit the front from a corner that resulted from Darren Randolph saving smartly from Bukayo Saka following an initial poor punch.

Harry Winks picked up the first clearance and stood up a cross for Maguire to power home with his head.

Calvert-Lewin then went close at the end of a slick move and Randolph saved from Maguire before the lively Jack Grealish fed Sancho, who lashed home England's second through the legs of Jeff Hendrick.

England picked up where they left off in the second half, pressing Ireland high before Saka was tripped in the box by Cyrus Christie.

And Calvert-Lewin made no mistake from the spot, hammering the ball into the top corner for the second goal of his short international career.

With the hosts in complete control late on, Southgate introduced Jude Bellingham from the bench, making him the third youngest England player of all-time.


What does it mean? Southgate given headache

The wisdom of playing these international friendlies has been questioned in recent weeks, but there is no doubt that Southgate learned more about the depth at his disposal this evening.

There is nothing better for a manager than to see fringe players stepping up in the absence of key men and that is exactly what happened for England here. Southgate is facing a very welcome headache.

Grealish makes case once again

It once felt like there was nothing Grealish could do to get into the England squad, but just two caps in he already looks a dead cert for inclusion in the Euros squad next summer. 

The Aston Villa man was influential again here, taking 50 touches, completing 88.9% of passes in the opposition half, and making two key passes - including the assist for Sancho's goal.

Idah isolated up top

Starting up front for the visitors at Wembley, Adam Idah would have hoped to make much more of an impact before his withdrawal in the 71st minute.

The 19-year-old touched the ball just 18 times, and won only one of his five duels.

What's next?

England travel to Belgium for a Nations League fixture on Sunday, while Ireland's next outing in the same competition sees them face Wales away from home.

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