England: Narrow Win Over Austria for a Place in the Euros

by S. Ateljevic  ·  June 4, 2021

As part of the preparations for Euro 2020, England defeated Austria 1-0 at the Riverside Stadium as the host in a friendly match on Wednesday. The seventh victory and the best run in friendlies for England since 1986 was marred by an injury to Trent Alexander-Arnold just a few minutes from the final whistle.

After a goalless first half, the Three Lions took on Austria thanks to Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka’s first goal for England in the 57th minute of the match. Without quality chances, all eyes were on Harry Kane, who came close in the 28th minute, getting the ball from Saka and threatening the goal, but Daniel Bachmann made a good save. Another star, with a man-of-the-match performance, was Jack Grealish, winning national media ovations for his impressive setup of the winning goal.

In a not-so-convincing display, set back by Arnold’s injury, England was grateful for desperate defending and Austrian mistakes to close out the narrow win. 

BBC Sports quoted England’s manager Gareth Southgate summarizing the game to ITV: “I thought we started very well. We used the ball well in the first hour or so. We were playing against a very good side. They have good players. They get in between the lines well. […] The first hour was good in terms of quality. After that, we needed to make a lot of changes and preserve people. We got a bit disjointed and people had cramps. We were hanging on at the end. It was understandable given the changes.”

Alexander-Arnold’s tight injury took much of the shine off the win. Seeing the right-back limping off the court sank hopes of him playing against Romania on Sunday in the last warm-up match before the big one against Croatia on Sunday, June 13 (14:00 BST). With Euro 2020 finally on the horizon, we’d place our bets on the Three Lions.