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England 1-0 Romania: 5 Talking Points as Marcus Rashford penalty spares Gareth Southgate's blushes | International Friendlies 2021

England v Romania - International Friendly
England v Romania - International Friendly

England and Romania locked horns at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough in an international friendly ahead of Euro 2020. The home side weren't at their best, but they recorded a 1-0 win, as Marcus Rashford's second-half penalty spared their blushes against a Romania side that failed to qualify for the European Championships.

Gareth Southgate opted to start a second-string squad ahead of the Three Lions' Euro 2020 opener against Croatia, with Rashford captaining the side and Sam Johnstone making his international debut. England dominated proceedings and played most of their football through the left flank, with Rashford and Jack Grealish enjoying a lot of the ball in the first half.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jadon Sancho hit the post, but England couldn't break the deadlock before the interval. Romania didn't have too much joy on the ball and lacked conviction in front of goal.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson made his much-awaited return from injury in the second half, as he kept things ticking in the center of the park. England made a handful of changes as the game progressed and finally broke the deadlock from the penalty spot, as Rashford made no mistake from six yards after Grealish was brought down inside the box.

The Three Lions created a flurry of chances in the last quarter of the game and were awarded another penalty after Calvert-Lewin was on the wrong end of a rash challenge from Vlad Chiriches. Henderson stepped up, but his spot-kick was saved brilliantly by Romania goalkeeper Florin Nita.

Debutant Sam Johnstone made an outstanding late save to spare England's blushes, as Southgate and co held on for a narrow victory.

On that note, here are five talking points from the game.


#5 Tyrone Mings fails to take his chance for England

England v Romania - International Friendly
England v Romania - International Friendly

Tyrome Mings earned his tenth England cap against Romania and started alongside Ben White at the heart of the defense. The Aston Villa man looked sloppy on the ball and was guilty of making a few rash challenges, as he struggled to make an impression.

England are sweating over the fitness of Harry Maguire, who faces a race against time to play against Croatia later this week. However, Mings' display proved that even if the Manchester United captain were to miss out, he is unlikely to be named in the starting XI for the Three Lions' Euro 2020 opener.


#4 James Ward-Prowse could replace Alexander-Arnold in the 26-man squad

England v Romania - International Friendly
England v Romania - International Friendly

Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse is coming on the back of an impressive season in the Premier League and showed his class with an assured display in the England midfield. Starting alongside Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish, he ran the show in the center of the park.

Ward-Prowse completed more passes and tackles than any player on the pitch in the first half and also created a few glorious chances with his set-pieces. With Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the squad, the versatile midfielder is the ideal candidate to replace the Liverpool defender in the 26-man squad for Euro 2020.


Also Read: Fabrizio Romano's Transfer Roundup: Update on Lionel Messi's Barcelona future, Chelsea's plan for the summer and more

#3 Jordan Henderson returns after 4-month injury lay off

England v Romania - International Friendly
England v Romania - International Friendly

Jordan Henderson made his first competitive appearance since sustaining an injury against Everton in February, as he came on as a second-half substitute. The Liverpool captain missed a penalty, but his return to the side is a massive boost for Gareth Southgate ahead of Euro 2020.

The 31-year-old got valuable game time under his belt in his preferred midfield position, as he kept things ticking and added some much-needed experience to a young England side. The Three Lions have a lot of talented players in the squad, but Henderson is likely to be named in the starting XI against Croatia due to his experience and leadership qualities.


#2 Sam Johnstone impresses on England debut

England v Romania - International Friendly
England v Romania - International Friendly

Sam Johnstone made his England debut, as he replaced Jordan Pickford between the sticks against Romania. The 28-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League and is coming on the back of an outstanding season with West Bromwich Albion despite suffering relegation.

Johnstone made two routine saves in the first half and didn't have much to do before the interval, as Romania didn't threaten in front of goal. However, he made an outstanding save late in the game, as he got up quickly from a deflected shot to deny the away side from close range.

One man's loss is another man's gain, as he looks set to make the most of Nick Pope's injury absence to consolidate his position in the England squad.


#1 England's star-studded left-flank looked promising

England v Romania - International Friendly
England v Romania - International Friendly

Gareth Southgate named a second-string squad, but England's left flank boasted the likes of Luke Shaw, Jack Grealish and Marcus Rashford. The trio combined efficiently and saw a lot of the ball in the first half, indicating that they could well retain their spots against Croatia.

Grealish is one of the best ball-carriers in world football and was one of the best players on the pitch, while Shaw made several overlapping runs into the penalty area. Marcus Rashford didn't enjoy his best game, but he scored the match-winning goal in the second half and is one of England's key players in the final third.

Most of England's attacks came from the left flank and that could well be the case at Euro 2020.


Also Read: Fabrizio Romano's Transfer Roundup: Update on Lionel Messi's Barcelona future, Chelsea's plan for the summer and more

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Edited by Vishal Subramanian
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