Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

Fixtures & Results

France FRA 2

Australia AUS 1

REPORT

Argentina ARG 1

Iceland ISL 1

REPORT

Peru PER 0

Denmark DNK 1

REPORT

Croatia CRO 2

Nigeria NGA 0

REPORT

Costa Rica CRI 0

Serbia SRB 1

REPORT

Germany GER 0

Mexico MEX 1

REPORT

Brazil BRA 1

Switzerland SUI 1

REPORT

Sweden SWE

South Korea KOR

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Panama PAN

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England ENG

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Poland POL

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Russia RUS

Egypt EGY

Portugal POR

Morocco MAR

Uruguay URY

Saudi Arabia SAU

Iran IRN

Spain ESP

Denmark DNK

Australia AUS

France FRA

Peru PER

Argentina ARG

Croatia CRO

Brazil BRA

Costa Rica CRI

Nigeria NGA

Iceland ISL

Serbia SRB

Switzerland SUI

Belgium BEL

Tunisia TUN

South Korea KOR

Mexico MEX

Germany GER

Sweden SWE

England ENG

Panama PAN

Japan JPN

Senegal SEN

Poland POL

Colombia COL

Saudi Arabia SAU

Egypt EGY

Uruguay URY

Russia RUS

Spain ESP

Morocco MAR

Iran IRN

Portugal POR

Denmark DNK

France FRA

Australia AUS

Peru PER

Iceland ISL

Croatia CRO

Nigeria NGA

Argentina ARG

Mexico MEX

Sweden SWE

South Korea KOR

Germany GER

Switzerland SUI

Costa Rica CRI

Serbia SRB

Brazil BRA

Senegal SEN

Colombia COL

Japan JPN

Poland POL

Panama PAN

Tunisia TUN

England ENG

Belgium BEL

Southgate delight as Rashford shows his top quality

England 2 Costa Rica 0

By Simon Peach

Marcus Rashford's stunning strike set England on course for a winning World Cup send-off as Gareth Southgate's much-changed side produced a controlled performance against Costa Rica.

Just 11 days before their Group G opener against Tunisia, last night's sold-out Elland Road friendly was the last chance for the Three Lions to fine-tune before departing for Russia.

Southgate made widespread alterations in a bid to test his options and for the most part was rewarded with an encouraging display, with Rashford superbly opening the scoring before Danny Welbeck came off the bench to secure a 2-0 win against underwhelming Costa Rica.

Southgate has been given plenty of food for thought before selecting his starting XI for the Tunisia test.

"What pleased me most is that Marcus Rashford enjoyed his football," he said. "He played with a real swagger. He's a Manchester United player and he got booed at the start and cheered off at the end.

"We have got great competition for places throughout the team - you saw that tonight."

Pressed on whether Rashford would start against Tunisia, Southgate added: "I thought today his link-up was good. It was a wonderful strike for the goal and he worked incredibly hard for the team.

"He had a difficult end to the season having to play on his own as a No.9 at times. He is still filling out - we sometimes forget how old he is (20)."

England midfielder Fabian Delph stated: "We've had a good two-week camp and we're raring to go."

A delighted Rashford said: "You work on them (goals) in training every day and when one comes up in a game it's a reward."

The margin of victory would have been more had the Three Lions showed a cutting edge, but there was far more to shout about in comparison to the countries' last meeting at the World Cup four years ago.

Roy Hodgson's already-eliminated side brought the curtain down on their dreadful finals foray with a lifeless goalless draw in Belo Horizonte. Just five members from the squad in Brazil are heading to this summer's finals, with Southgate favouring promise over experience.

This is a fresh group bursting with potential and Rashford is among the contenders to start judging by this audition in West Yorkshire, where a superb 25-yard opener crowned a fine performance,

The Manchester United forward was particularly impressive in the first half, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek another fringe player to sparkle in the first period of a match that tailed off after the break.

But England never looked in danger of throwing away their lead and substitute Welbeck headed home to seal victory against the 2014 World Cup's surprise package.

Only John Stones kept his place from the side that started Saturday's 2-1 friendly win against Nigeria - one of five Yorkshiremen in the line-up as England headed on the road for the first time since 2016.

Excitement about the Three Lions' first visit to Leeds in 16 years was palpable, and only fuelled by building World Cup anticipation.

The Elland Road crowd chanted "football's coming home" in a bright start punctuated by flashes of impressive team interplay and skill.

Rashford's 'flip-flap' was among those moments of excitement and earned an eighth-minute corner, from which Phil Jones sent a looping header that was tipped over by Costa Rica's star man Keylor Navas.

However, Real Madrid's Champions League-winning goalkeeper could only watch on in wonder in the 13th minute as the ball flew in.

Looking as confident as he appeared determined to impress, Rashford underlined his credentials with a stunning, dipping strike that beat Navas from 25 yards.

The spectacular attempt had England fans on their feet, with the 20-year-old lapping up the applause from the Leeds fans who had reminded him of his Manchester United connections before kick-off.

Navas spread himself well to deny Jamie Vardy from close range as England threatened a quick-fire second, with Jack Butland, widely expected to be back-up to Jordan Pickford, springing into action to deny Johan Venegas.

It was Costa Rica's only threat in a dominant first-half display by England.

Southgate's men bossed possession as Loftus-Cheek and Leeds academy graduate Delph impressed in midfield, with debutant Trent Alexander-Arnold holding his own as right-back.

Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson joined the teenager in the starting line-up and saw a thumping effort denied by Navas, before Bryan Oviedo hacked off the line as Harry Maguire met the resulting corner with a header.

Loftus-Cheek dragged wide from distance before goalkeeper Nick Pope came on for his debut among a swathe of alterations.

Kieran Tripper was among them and sent a free-kick just wide, with Danny Rose - the subject of so much pre-match attention after speaking candidly about his depression - soon after firing into the side netting.

England were on top without exerting too much pressure and got the second in the 76th minute. Rashford played in Dele Alli and his low cross found fellow substitute Welbeck.

England were unable to find a way to add a third but emerged victorious - and seemingly without injury.

ENGLAND: Butland (Pope 65), Jones, Stones (Cahill 65), Maguire, Henderson (Alli 64), Alexander-Arnold (Trippier 64), Loftus-Cheek (Lingard 79), Delph, Rose, Vardy (Welbeck 61), Rashford.

Subs not used: Pickford, Walker, Dier, Kane, Sterling, Young, Heaton, Lallana, Livermore.

COSTA RICA: Navas, Waston, Gonzalez, Calvo, Gamboa (Smith 72), Borges, Guzman (Tejeda 69), Oviedo (Matarrita 60), Campbell, Venegas (Bolanos 61), Urena.

Subs not used: Acosta, Duarte, Colindres, Ruiz, Wallace, Azofeifa, Pemberton, Moreira, Ramirez.

Man of the match: Marcus Rashford

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Hiroyuki Kimura (Japan).

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