England 1 Switzerland 0: Marcus Rashford will be a ‘top player’ says Gareth Southgate
Man Utd striker scores the winner as England recover from ‘embarrassing’ first-half display in Leicester
England 1 Switzerland 0
England have avoided a fourth successive defeat with a 1-0 win over Switzerland at the King Power Stadium last night, but Marcus Rashford’s goal was one of the few highlights of a forgettable occasion.
The excitement of the Three Lions’ run to the World Cup semi-finals was a distant memory in a friendly match that allowed England to at least put behind them defeats to Croatia, Belgium and Spain.
Gareth Southgate made nine changes to the starting XI that lost 2-1 to the Spanish on Saturday, with only Harry Maguire and Rashford retained.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the upheaval resulted in what Danny Rose described as an “embarrassing” first-half display, as the players struggled to find their rhythm.
Rashford on target
Switzerland were the superior side before the break, and Liverpool’s Xherdan Shaqiri should have given them an early lead but his effort rattled the post.
“We could have been two or three-nil down at half-time,” admitted Rose, who was man of the match. “It’s great we can all shout at each other and tell each other to improve like we did.”
The home truths exchanged in the dressing room at half-time resulted in a far sharper England performance in the second-half. The winner came on 54 minutes when Rashford, who scored England’s goal against Spain, arrived at the far post to turn in Kyle Walker’s cross.
The 20-year-old’s two goals will put pressure on the injured Raheem Sterling, who was preferred by Southgate in the World Cup starting line-up but is without an international goal in 26 matches.
“I’m really pleased for him,” said Southgate, when asked about the performance of Rashford. “We know how exciting he is and we know he is going to be a top player, he’s got a super mentality and he’s great to work with.”
A tall order
If the match confirmed what Southgate knows about Rashford, it also showed the England manager that there is clear daylight in the pecking order between Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland.
The latter kept a clean sheet against the Swiss but lacked the assurance of Pickford. The Everton keeper seems certain to come back for England’s next game, against Croatia on 12 October in the Uefa Nations League.
Overall, however, Southgate said he was pleased with a victory obtained in difficult circumstances. “So many of the lads were playing their first 45 minutes of the season,” he said. “It was a tall order to ask them to go in and play against a really good side in Switzerland, who are an excellent team.”
England’s 2018 fixtures
- 12 October: Uefa Nations League vs. Croatia (Stadion HNK Rijeka, Rijeka; 7.45pm)
- 15 October: Uefa Nations League vs. Spain (Estadio Benito de Villamarin, Sevilla; 7.45pm)
- 15 November: friendly vs. United States (Wembley, London; 8pm)
- 18 November: Uefa Nations League vs. Croatia (Wembley, London; 2pm)