Marcus Rashford’s beautiful first-half strike helped England secure another win before leaving for Russia. The Three Lions were 2-0 victors over Costa Rica and Leeds United’s Elland Road.
Marcus Rashford put England ahead with a stunning strike from outside the box before Danny Welbeck doubled their lead, heading in a nice pass from Dele Alli.
Marcus Rashford Shines in England Win
Gareth Southgate sent out a very different starting lineup from the friendly against Nigeria. John Stones was the only player to retain his place from the Wembley victory over the Super Eagles. This left Tottenham star and England captain for the World Cup Harry Kane out.
In a quiet first half, England controlled the possession in the opening exchanges. It took just 13 minutes for 20-year-old Marcus Rashford to open the scoring. In one swift motion, he turned after receiving the ball and struck a stunning effort past Keylor Navas.
Playing in their usual 3-5-2 formation, Gareth Southgate’s team kept the ball for the most part of the first half but couldn’t break through their opponent’s defence again.
In the 20th minute, after a corner Fabian Delph put the ball into the penalty area, Harry Maguire headed it towards Jamie Vardy, who saw Keylor Navas block his attempt from close range.
Seven minutes later, Costa Rica got the ball on the break. Johan Venegas dribbled past the defender and shot, forcing Jack Butland to work for the first time in the game.
The first half ended with just four attempts on goal for both sides. England had 73% possession but created very little.
After the break, Costa Rica started to find more space going forward. Marco Ureña’s 51st minute deflected shot marked the first shot on goal in the second half.
A succession of England substitutes saw Welbeck replace Jamie Vardy in the 61st minute, followed by Gary Cahill, Dele Alli, Nick Pope, and Kieran Trippier, replacing John Stones, Jordan Henderson, Jack Butland and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The substitutions disrupted the flow of the game at first, but the replacements quickly found the pace of the game.
The game went on, a lot busier than the first half, but with no clear chances.
England rounded off the night comfortably, though. Dele Alli’s cross-shot was turned in at the far post by Danny Welbeck’s diving header.
Easy Win in the Last Warm-Up Game
Gareth Southgate will be pleased to have given most of his reverses a run-out and even happier after a good win.
Marcus Rashford was by far the best player on the pitch. He was always trying to find space between the lines and dribble past defenders. His first half screamer would have secured the win as Costa Rica had minimal possession and firepower overall.
Looking ahead at England’s first two World Cup matches against Tunisia and Panama, Gareth Southgate and his players should be very confident.
The 3-5-2 formation with Alli, Lingard and Raheem Sterling making runs through the opponent’s lines can be very effective against weaker sides. The team feels very comfortable in possession and can mix things up with their pacey players, like Kyle Walker and Sterling.
The defence has been very safe and Eric Dier’s presence might give that extra protection when needed.
England have shown a very organized playing style, controlling the ball, using the progression of their wing-backs and the runs of their attacking midfielders and forwards.
However, it’s safe to say that this team hasn’t been properly tested.
The games against Tunisia and Panama are very important but the last one against Belgium is going to be England’s first real test.
England: Butland (7), Jones (7), Stones (7), Maguire (7), Alexander-Arnold (7.5), Loftus-Cheek (7.5), Henderson (7), Delph (6.5), Rose (6), Vardy (6) and Rashford (8.5);
Subs: Pope (6), Cahill (6), Trippier (5.5), Alli (8), Lingard (6) and Welbeck (7.5);
Costa Rica: Navas (7), Watson (6), González (5.5), Calvo (6.5), Gamboa (6), Guzmán (5.5), Borges (6), Oviedo (6.5), Venegas (6), Ureña (6) and Campbell (6.5);
Subs: Matarrita (5), Smith (6), Tejeda (6) and Bolaños (6);
Man of the Match: Marcus Rashford