News

[NEWS][bleft]

ENTERTAINMENT

[Entertainment][bsummary]

Sports

[Sports][twocolumns]

Movies

[Movies][twocolumns]

ENGLAND 1-0 PORTUGAL: SMALLING HEADS LATE WINNER


The Manchester United defender struck the
only goal of the game as Roy Hodgson's men
tasted victory in their final international
friendly before the European Championships
Chris Smalling's first international goal four
minutes from time ensured England
concluded their Euro 2016 preparations with
a largely forgettable 1-0 win over 10-man
Portugal at Wembley.

Roy Hodgson named captain Wayne Rooney
alongside strikers Harry Kane and Jamie
Vardy - marking the first time the attacking
trio have started together.
But the hosts lacked fluency for the most
part as those star names and others
grappled worryingly with unfamiliar positions
on the eve of a major competition.

Fernando Santos' decision to rest star man
Cristiano Ronaldo meant Portugal did not
provide their anticipated threat before
Bruno Alves showed little sign of the
experience accrued over 85 caps when he
flung himself through the air to kick Kane in
the head 10 minutes before half-time.
England were unable to make their
numerical advantage count before Smalling
headed home a fine late left-wing cross
from substitute Raheem Sterling to boost
Wembley's flagging pre-tournament
optimism.

Vardy's trademark harrying forced a poor
clearance from Rui Patricio and, although
Rooney was marginally offside when he
forced the Portugal goalkeeper into a close-
range save from Kane's resulting cross, it
represented a promising start for the new-
look forward line.

Former Manchester United winger Nani took
the captain's armband and led the Portugal
attack in Ronaldo's absence, but he hacked
a shot wildly off target after capitalising on
a slack pass by James Milner in the 18th
minute.

Rooney sent a header too close to Patricio
from a Kyle Walker cross before the
Tottenham right-back whistled a drive
narrowly past the post.

These moments hinted towards England
finding a rhythm otherwise absent from
their play but the complexion of the contest
changed in the 35th minute.

Kane, breaking forward from a right-flank
role he appeared ill-suited to, was fortunate
to escape a nasty injury when Alves careered
towards him and caught his head with a
flying boot, leaving referee Marco Guida
with little option but to dismiss the 34-year-
old.

Fortunately for Hodgson, Kane showed no
ill-effects from Alves' wild challenge.
There was no change in personnel for
England at the interval and no subsequent
upturn in their creative play – Eric Dier's
dipping long-range effort offering Patricio
a rare workout as the reduced numbers in
front of him remained relatively untroubled.
Highly-rated Portugal midfield duo Renato
Sanches and William Carvalho were unable to
rouse the dour fare, a bustling run from the
new Bayern Munich signing offering a
glimpse of the excitement the match might
have offered.

Sterling and Adam Lallana replaced Vardy
and Rooney respectively to lend a more
natural feel to England's 4-3-3 and Daniel
Sturridge, on for Kane, flashed a 25-yard
volley wide.

As his array of attacking talent continued to
misfire, Hodgson was bailed out by centre-
back Smalling , although numerous questions
remain over his starting line-up for next
Saturday's Group B opener versus Russia.
Santos at least has the consolation of a
further warm-up versus Estonia next week
and Ronaldo's imminent return.