England stroll to victory
The Three Lions continued their winning streak with a comfortable 1-0 victory over Romania. England had plenty of good chances and hit the bar twice, while Jordan Henderson also missed a penalty.
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) June 6, 2021
However, Marcus Rashford made no such mistake, rolling the ball in from twelve yards to give Southgate’s side the win and make it two from two in their warm-up games.
But how did their fellow Group D participants get on?
In their first pre-Euro 2020 warm-up game, the Czech Republic struggled. Up against tournament dark horses Italy, they were powerless to stop the Azurri from running riot, eventually coming away with a 4-0 win.
The Czech’s hung on for the first quarter of the game, but Ciro Immobile broke the deadlock in the 23rd minute, squeezing the ball in at the near post from eight yards out. Impressive midfielder Nico Barella added a second goal three minutes before the break with the help of a massive deflection.
The Czech Republic created little across the 90 minutes, and Lorenzo Insigne punished some poor defending to score Italy’s third goal just after the hour mark. Insigne was again involved in the fourth goal, drawing defenders away from Domenico Berardi before finding the Sassuolo winger, who calmly lifted the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper.
What will be most surprising to watchers of the Premier League was how easily space was found behind right-back Vladamir Coufal. The West Ham full-back had been a shining light for his club side this season, but suffered a torrid evening at the hands of Lorenzo Insigne, with three of Italy’s four goals being made down that flank.
It could well be something that England, and other sides in the group, will look to target this summer.
Italy’s last eight matches 🇮🇹
Italy 4-0 Estonia
Italy 2-0 Poland
Bosnia & Herzegovina 0-2 Italy
Italy 2-0 Northern Ireland
Bulgaria 0-2 Italy
Lithuania 0-2 Italy
Italy 7-0 San Marino
Italy 4-0 Czech Republic
Don’t sleep on them at Euro 2020 👀 pic.twitter.com/iM0mOnwCJH
— Goal (@goal) June 5, 2021
The Czech Republic have one more fixture ahead of their opening group game against Scotland, with the side due to play Albania on Tuesday evening. It will be fascinating to see how they fare against opposition without Italy’s calibre.
One of England’s oldest rivals, Scotland impressed in their two international friendlies ahead of the tournament. They held a strong Netherlands side to a 2-2 draw in midweek, with only a late goal from Memphis Depay preventing them from walking away with an impressive victory.
In a more sedate second fixture, the Scots took on minnows Luxembourg. It was much less eventful than their game against the Oranje, and the Scottish took the lead in the 27th minute through Southampton striker Che Adams. who slipped the ball under the onrushing goalkeeper.
And the game was made even easier after half an hour when centre-back Vahid Selimovic was sent off for Luxembourg after pulling back Lyndon Dykes on the edge of the area.
The resulting free-kick was fired over the bar, and the Scots also hit the post on their way to a comfortable victory.
Scotland will hope for better finishing in the tournament proper, however, as they failed to convert a number of good chances.
Unlike Scotland, Croatia have struggled in their friendlies ahead of Euro2020.
The World Cup 2018 finalists look leggy and seemingly lacking invention beyond the silk of the evergreen Luka Modric.
And this fact was evident as they limped to a shocking 1-1 draw against Armenia, no thanks to their lacklustre performance in front of goal.
In their second friendly, and final game before they face England on Sunday, Croatia travelled to Brussels to take on number 1 ranked side Belgium.
It was another docile performance from Dalic’s side, whose first meaningful shot on target did not come until the second minute of second-half stoppage time.
Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game, but will count himself unlucky not to have netted a hat-trick, with the Inter Milan striker hitting the crossbar in the first half before heading straight at Livakovic in the second.
60 international goals scored at the age of:
🇧🇪 Lukaku: 28y, 0m
🇦🇷 Messi: 30y, 3m
🇵🇱 Lewa: 31y, 1m
🇵🇹 Ronaldo: 31y, 4m
🇺🇾 Suarez: 33y, 8m
🇸🇪 Ibrahimovic: 34y, 1m
Future Legend in the making 👑 pic.twitter.com/wMDREQKujO
— Uncle Sharma *19* LIMONE SZN (@RSharmzz) June 6, 2021
Heading into the group stages, then, Gareth Southgate’s side are the only team to have recorded two victories in their pre-tournament friendlies, although Scotland remain unbeaten. It all makes for a fascinating Group D battle over the coming weeks.
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