LONDON: Bukayo Saka set absentee-hit England’s Euro 2020 preparations off to a winning start against Austria but all eyes will be on Trent Alexander-Arnold after his late injury.
Having whittled his 33-man provisional squad down to 26 players on the eve of Wednesday’s friendly, Gareth Southgate’s side triumphed as they played in front of fans for the first time in 18 months.
Saka’s debut goal was the difference in England’s 1-0 victory against fellow Euros outfit Austria, but the main talking point after the match will be Alexander-Arnold limping off late on in Middlesbrough.
Boss Steve Clarke have opted to leave six players – David Marshall, Stephen O’Donnell, Nathan Patterson, Grant Hanley, John McGinn and Che Adams – behind in Spain, where they had been in a training camp, following John Fleck’s positive Covid-19 test.
It was an “ultra cautious” move by the Scotland camp for a Euro 2020 preparation fixture against Frank De Boer’s side but they were far from reticent when defender Jack Hendry drove in his first international goal after 11 minutes of a match played behind closed doors in the Estadio Algarve.
Memphis Depay levelled five minutes later with a drive from inside the box but substitute Kevin Nisbet opened his Scotland account soon after coming on in the second half with a confident close-range finish, only for Depay to equalise again with a minute remaining with a wonderful free-kick.
Wales fell to a 3-0 Euro 2020 warm-up defeat to France after Neco Williams’ controversial red card left them playing with 10 men for more than an hour.
Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele made France’s numerical advantage count as Wales went into damage limitation mode on a night in Nice which proved anything but pleasant for the Dragons.
Williams was banished on 26 minutes after blocking Karim Benzema’s close-range shot with his arms outstretched, following a VAR check by Portuguese referee Luis Godinho.
It seemed a harsh decision, but Williams now looks set to miss Wales’ final pre-Euro 2020 friendly against Albania in Cardiff on Saturday through suspension.
Benzema saw his resulting spot-kick saved by Danny Ward, but the outcome was inevitable from that point as the world champions revelled in the extra space created by Williams’ departure.