England 3-0 Republic of Ireland
England earned their first victory over Ireland since 1985 with a dominant display at Wembley tonight.
This International Friendly was a chance for Gareth Southgate to take a look at some of his squad players before they continue their UEFA Nations League campaign, and he will have been pretty pleased by what he saw.
Ireland head coach Stephen Kenny was looking for his first win in charge and his nation’s first-ever triumph at Wembley. But the England vs Republic of Ireland highlights tell the story of a first half totally dominated by the hosts as they coasted to a two-goal lead, thanks to Harry Maguire and Jadon Sancho. And when Dominic Calvert-Lewin made it three from the penalty spot, it was game over.
The last time there was a positive result between these two teams was way back in 1988 when the Republic beat England in their opening game at the European Championships.
Highlights of the game
Calvert-Lewin was given a start in a youthful line-up as Harry Kane was rested, and he was almost in for the opener when Bukayo Saka swung over a cross, but Ireland centre back Shane Duffy was there to clear for a corner. It was a defender who scored England’s first goal on 18 minutes. Mason Mount swung in a corner which was cleared, and when Harry Winks recycled the ball into the danger area Maguire outmuscled Duffy to beat Darren Randolph with a powerful header.
The Three Lions made a tactical change on the half-hour when Jadon Sancho and Jack Grealish switched wings, and it was an inspired move as the switch produced a goal within a minute — it was another recycled corner that was Ireland’s undoing. Winks picked up the Ireland clearance again and passed to Jack Grealish, who took his time before feeding Sancho on the left side of the box and the Borussia Dortmund striker fired his shot through a crowd of legs and into the bottom right corner.
Southgate gave Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson his debut, bringing him on for the second half to replace Nick Pope — but the action continued to flow at the opposite end of the pitch and England made it three, early in the half, after a brilliant piece of play from Sako. He beat Cyrus Christie with a quick turn of pace and the Nottingham Forest defender could only bring him down and give the referee no option but to point to the spot.
In the absence of Kane, Calvert-Lewin stepped up and fired a beauty into the top left corner, giving Randolph no chance.
England came close to a fourth when Michael Keane hit a first time effort which flew just past Tammy Abraham when a touch from the Chelsea striker would have diverted the ball into the net. Then there was a great moment for 17-year-old Jude Bellingham when he was handed his debut, replacing Mount and becoming the third-youngest player ever to represent England, after Theo Walcott and Wayne Rooney.
The England vs Republic of Ireland betting odds here at SBOTOP had the hosts nailed on for victory after a run of five draws, dating back to the 1980s. And with a shot count of 19 to three, and five to two on target, the result was never in doubt.
It was the first time this game has yielded over two goals in the last eight meetings, but it extends Ireland’s goal drought, with only one goal to show for the last six games.
Calvert-Lewin’s goal was his first from the penalty spot in his career.
Defeat to Denmark in their last Nations League game means that England need a win when they face Belgium on Sunday, but this was much better from Southgate’s young lions.
Following that pivotal game, the Three Lions are due to play Iceland at Wembley, next Wednesday, though the venue or date of that match may be moved following Iceland’s planned visit to Denmark, where COVID cases have been discovered in farmed mink.
Ireland have a crucial Nations League clash against Wales and they are in desperate need of a result, sitting second bottom of Group B4 on two points, just one ahead of Bulgaria while Wales top the group on ten points. Then Kenny’s men have a bottom of the group clash with Bulgaria. They need to start scoring…and soon.
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