Marcus Rashford’s second-half strike gave England a 1-0 win over Switzerland in Tuesday’s friendly at the King Power Stadium. Here are five talking points from the game.
Contrasting halves from England
England turned in contrasting performances in the two halves at the King Power Stadium. In the first, they were outpassed by the visitors, who had the better scoring opportunities and enjoyed a 61 per cent share of possession. Jack Butland looked nervous in goal, while in midfield, Granit Xhaka had more touches (62) than Ruben Loftus-Cheek (27) and Fabian Delph (32) combined.
It is one thing to be outplayed by Spain, but it was concerning for the same to happen against Switzerland. Thankfully for England, they were much improved after the break. The midfield was adjusted and suddenly Gareth Southgate’s side were playing with urgency and dominating possession. Rashford’s winning goal was no less than their improvement deserved.
“There was energy, pace on the pass, things we never saw in the first half,” said Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher. “Switzerland controlled the game in the first half, credit to them, they played well, but you’ve got to stop that. Gareth just re-jigged his midfield slightly, he went with two sitting and Loftus-Cheek pushed onto Xhaka. It made a big difference.”
Rashford scores again
Rashford has endured a difficult start to the season at Manchester United, struggling to hold down a starting spot under Jose Mourinho and receiving a straight red card during the 2-0 win over Burnley last weekend, but he fared far better with England during the international break.
The 20-year-old scored his fourth international goal during the defeat to Spain on Saturday, and while he missed opportunities to add to his tally in that game, he made no mistake with his first clear chance against Switzerland, coolly dispatching Kyle Walker’s cross following an England corner.
Jamie Vardy’s international retirement is already providing more opportunities for Rashford. He was one of only two players to keep his place in Southgate’s starting line-up on Tuesday night – and he will hope for more of the same when England continue their Nations League campaign against Croatia and Spain next month.
After Luke Shaw’s encouraging return to the international fold against Spain on Saturday, it was the turn of another England left-back to shine against Switzerland. Danny Rose is no longer a first-choice starter for either club or country, but he is determined to change that and his performance at the King Power Stadium was a reminder of his qualities.
Rose was England’s only real attacking threat in a poor first half, charging forward energetically and showing a willingness to take on Swiss defenders. There were several occasions when his direct running forced them to bring him down in dangerous areas, and he even tested Yann Sommer with one stinging drive from a diagonal angle shortly before the break.
Rose’s pace was useful at the other end, too, with one recovering run and clearance preventing a Switzerland chance when Jack Butland was slow to come off his line. Rose continued to impress after the break, creating chances for Rashford and Eric Dier, with Gary Neville describing him as England’s “brightest spark” in the Sky Sports commentary box.
Quiet night for Loftus-Cheek
It was billed as a big night for Loftus-Cheek but he was unable to make much of an impression. The 22-year-old, who has only played 33 Premier League minutes for Chelsea under Maurizio Sarri this season, started alongside Delph and Eric Dier in England’s midfield but spent most of the first half chasing shadows and only played 15 minutes of the second.
2:17 Watch highlights of England's 1-0 win over Switzerland
There were a couple of trademark driving runs and one deflected shot which was saved by Sommer, but there were also signs of rustiness. Midway through the first half, for example, he allowed a Swiss defender to get back and tackle him when he was played in on England’s right flank. It felt like a wasted opportunity – much like his evening as a whole.
No rest for Kane
Southgate’s pre-match comments suggested Kane would be left out at the King Power Stadium. The striker has started 61 minutes in all competitions since the start of last season and the heavy workload seems to have taken a toll on his form, but he was named on the bench against Switzerland and replaced Danny Welbeck for the final half hour.
Kane was a peripheral figure, only touching the ball seven times, completing just three passes, and not attempting any shots on goal, adding to the sense that he might have been best served sitting it out altogether. Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham will hope the accumulation of more midweek minutes does not take a toll against Liverpool on Saturday.
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