Following a week that has seen the FA coming under intense criticism for their decision not to illuminate the Wembley arch in Israeli colours, England hosted Australia on Friday evening. With nothing but pride on the line in this friendly, Gareth Southgate’s side would view the match as a preparation fixture for next week’s clash against Italy.
ENG: Johnstone; Colwill, Dunk, Tomori, Alexander-Arnold; Henderson, Gallagher; Grealish, Maddison, Bowen; Watkins
AUS: Ryan; Rowles, Burgess, Souttar, Strain; Goodwin, Irvine, Baccus, Boyle; Metcalfe; Duke
Stéphanie Frappart stole the headlines ahead of kickoff, as the Frenchwoman became the first female referee to take charge of a men’s international fixture at Wembley.
Faced with an impressive Australian side, the Three Lions found themselves limited to a handful of opportunities throughout the first half. In fact, Gareth Southgate’s side were lucky to reach the half-time interval with parity still intact – Keanu Baccas, Mitchell Duke and Ryan Strain had all enjoyed teasing chances.
But just before the hour mark, Ollie Watkins would cue celebrations among the home support. Arriving to tap Jack Grealish’s strike over the line, the Aston Villa forward put England on course for victory – despite a disappointing performance in front of a strong crowd.Embed from Getty Images
Australia would seek to find a leveller too though, with the Socceroos evidently feeling they deserved to walk away with their heads held high – but Connor Metcalfe’s late headed effort could only pick out the post as another golden opportunity went amiss for the Oceanic outfit.
Gareth Southgate’s England return to match action on Tuesday, as they welcome Italy to Wembley Stadium. The fixture is a repeat of the most recent EURO Final, in which the Italians claimed a penalty defeat in a match that was preceded by serious crowd trouble.