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England beats Portugal 1-0 Portugal


England fans were given their first chance to see Roy Hodgson’s preferred attacking trio, with Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy all starting at Wembley.

But in truth, it underwhelmed. England’s forward line lacked pace, punch and aggression, and did little to suggest that their skipper should sit at the top of the diamond.

Dele Alli offered some silky touches – most notably a delightful control down the left channel – but it was merely a flicker of excitement, with the Tottenham man left to operate in a wider, deeper role to accommodate the England captain in the hole.

The first half was brought to life, however, in the 34th minute when veteran defender Bruno Alves was dismissed following a dangerous challenge on Kane.

The 34-year-old’s studs grazed the top of the Spurs man’s head, who was lucky to escape serious injury.

England were unable to make their numeric advantage count in the remaining minutes of the half, and their struggles continued after break.

Vardy was substituted after 65 minutes, along with James Milner, as Raheem Sterling and Jack Wilshere were introduced.

Chris Smalling headed home England’s winner in the 84th minute, to make it three wins from as many games ahead of Euro 2016, but questions remain as Hodgson’s side heads to France.

So, talking points there… This is widely expected to be roughly the starting lineup Roy Hodgson is intending to use against Russia in nine days time and, somewhat surprisingly, there’s no Jack Wilshere.

The Arsenal man has been so fundamental to Hodgson’s plans since the 2014 World Cup that, despite starting just one game last season, it’s hard to imagine that he would suddenly be dropped from the starting XI. Is he being rested after his exertions against Turkey and Australia? Or is reliable old James Milner the new choice for one of the two central roles in the diamond?

And diamond this almost certainly is – with Rooney at its tip and Alli in behind. Watch out Eric Dier, you’ve got your work cut out for you tonight.


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