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England 3-0 Bosnia: Cole Palmer, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Kane on target

Tuesday, June 4th, 2024 06:55 | By
Harry Kane and Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrate England's win. PHOTO/Sky
Harry Kane and Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrate England's win. PHOTO/Sky

A much-improved second-half performance saw England cruise to a 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in their first Euro 2024 warm-up game at St James' Park.

An England line-up that was likely much different from the one that will take to the field against Serbia in their Euro 2024 opener in 13 days' time struggled to create against new Bosnia boss Sergej Barbarez's defensive line-up before half-time.

Eberechi Eze and Cole Palmer had been two of the few bright spots for Gareth Southgate to that point, but the Three Lions re-emerged from the dressing room energized - and eventually, put their opponents to the sword.

England selection headache

Palmer netted a deserved opener, his first in England colours, from the spot on the hour mark after VAR noticed a shirt pull on Ezri Konsa in the area before Trent Alexander-Arnold scored an exquisite second with a cushioned volley into the far corner.

Harry Kane, who came on moments after Palmer's opener, added a late third with a typical poacher's finish, celebrating his 90th England cap by poking home from a corner to give the hosts a margin of victory which slightly flattered their performance.

After the game, Southgate admitted the performance of some players had given him a "selection headache" ahead of Friday's deadline to pick his final 26-man squad.

Cole Palmer's penalty was his first goal for England. PHOTO/Sky
Cole Palmer's penalty was his first goal for England. PHOTO/Sky

"That's a good thing," he told Channel 4. "I'd rather have good performances that make you think rather than poor performances. There were lots of individual things I was pleased with."

In his post-match press conference, he later added: "We're still discussing [the final squad] as a staff. It's a decision that we understand the significance of for all of the players, so we're giving it the respect it deserves to make fair, right decisions.

"Of course, it's always going to be subjective, and we've got to balance what we need in every area of the pitch as well.

That's the added complication, it's not just getting the best individuals in, there's a positional element to it too.

"We've got really good options, and we've come through tonight without any physical issues which was really important."

Dismantling defensive Bosnia

Southgate's line-up, four days before he selects his final 26 to take to Germany, was experimental - but the England manager's pre-match message was clear. Show you can play our way.

England were largely determined to play through the thirds from the start but struggled to create against a Bosnia five-man backline set up to, successfully, frustrate their hosts.

England's best moment of the first half was architected by Palmer, who turned with his first touch and fed Watkins into the box with his second before the forward was denied by Nikola Vasilj at his near post.

The lack of intensity commonplace in pre-tournament friendlies was evident when Marc Guehi presented Bosnia's finest chance to Haris Hajradinovic with a poor pass, which the Kasimpasa forward saw deflected behind from 20 yards.

England were sorely lacking tempo but Southgate retained belief his starting line-up could provide it after half-time and resisted the chance of making changes at the break.

Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a superb second for England on the volley from a tight angle. PHOTO/Sky
Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a superb second for England on the volley from a tight angle. PHOTO/Sky

He was rewarded with a second 45 minutes of near one-way traffic from his side, who could have netted an instant opener when Watkins headed over a corner.

Palmer saw a shot blocked from another pacy move before he was handed the perfect opportunity to net a debut England goal once VAR spotted a shirt pull on Konsa at a corner - and he continued his excellent form from the spot by beating Vasilj from 12 yards.

Kane was soon introduced alongside a number of other more experienced England players, with the regular England captain twice wayward before Alexander-Arnold fired in England's second.

The Liverpool man had started in central midfield before moving to right-back, and popped up at the back post to cushion a superb volley back across goal from a tight angle from Jack Grealish's cross.

That cushion was a fair reflection of England's improvement but Kane's late third showed their intimidating potency in attack.

Jarrod Bowen was denied a first international goal when his effort from a short corner was blocked by Konsa, but Kane made no mistake in forcing the loose ball home to net his 63rd strike in England colours.

Few questions were answered by England's evening overall, but the performances of Eze and Palmer did their hopes of a spot in Germany little harm - with one final chance to impress against Iceland at Wembley on Friday.

England manager Gareth Southgate speaking to Channel 4:

"We had an opponent who was dogged and determined so there was a good tempo to the game. It was a good workout. We had to be patient. In the end, the scoreline reflected the performance.

"Once you break the resistance the confidence comes and we started with a team without many caps on the field there was always a chance of a sticky start.

"Both [Palmer and Eze] were very good. They played with freedom. Eze has got a lovely movement and power to go past people. I'm happy. I thought Cole was trying to be too precise to get the touch before the shot. If he got his shot away a little earlier, he could have had a couple of goals himself.

"Our plan was half an hour today [for Kane] and he'll start on Friday. He's trained all week. He looks in good shape.

"We've got through the last few days with no big problems. That's important. We needed to get through these matches and the finals to have a clearer picture. The guys who have been rehabbing have been progressing well."

On selection headaches: "A little bit. That's a good thing. I'd rather have good performances that make you think rather than poor performances. There were lots of individual things I was pleased with."

Key dates for England

All times BST

Friday, June 7 - International Friendly, England vs Iceland at Wembley, kick-off 7.45 pm

Friday, June 7 - Final 26-player squad submitted to UEFA

Saturday, June 8 - The final 26-player squad announced

Monday, June 10 - England squad fly to Germany

Saturday, June 16 - Serbia vs England, Gelsenkirchen, kick-off 8 pm

Thursday, June 20 - Denmark vs England, Frankfurt, kick-off 5 pm

Tuesday, June 25 - England vs Slovenia, kick-off 8 pm

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