Bukayo Saka fires England to narrow win over Austria - but Trent Alexander-Arnold limps off late on

·24-min read
Bukayo Saka fires England to win over Austria - but Trent Alexander-Arnold limps off late on - REUTERS
Bukayo Saka fires England to win over Austria - but Trent Alexander-Arnold limps off late on - REUTERS

England 1 Austria 0

Was this where the long road to Euro 2020 ended for Trent Alexander-Arnold, that rare talent still finding a nook in the England team? Not in the white heat of the championships but perhaps walking tentatively around the perimeter of a part-full Riverside Stadium with an arm thrown around the physio’s shoulders.

If so, a great pity for a player whose international career has not seen the prodigious returns of the start of his professional life at Liverpool. The extent of his injury, to his left thigh, is not yet known and Gareth Southgate said the extent of it will only emerge over the next two days, although this is a squad already carrying its limit of injured, or returning-to fitness, players. There are, famously, more right-backs in the squad than there are goalkeepers although Alexander-Arnold in his best form is not a player who has an equivalent.

There are others who can play the position very well in different ways – Reece James, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier, who was at left-back on this occasion. None have Alexander-Arnold’s set of skills and there were moments in the game, especially at dead balls, when one was reminded that this is a player who strikes a football differently to any other. The build-up to his inclusion in Tuesday’s squad had become such a drama and to lose him now would be a severe blow.

Before then Southgate already had to substitute his No 10 for the night, Jack Grealish, who had been kicked throughout the game and finished it watching from the stand with ice as a precaution on an injury. The game’s only goal was scored by Bukayo Saka, the first for the Arsenal teenager in an England senior team and there were times when England looked creative and sharp but by the end they were hanging on, with nine fit players on the pitch.

Later Southgate would admit that Jordan Henderson, the Liverpool captain who has not played since February, had decided relatively late in the day against playing in this game. He has been scanned and no serious problems detected although it was a reminder of how precarious it stands with some key members of the squad.

It was a strange feature of the evening that all five fit outfield players from the seven whom Southgate had cut from the squad on Tuesday played a role, and for a while Jesse Lingard, who started, was among England’s best players. As Southgate fitted his squad for the task, one of two debutants on the night, Ben White, from Brighton and Hove Albion, came into the game not in his conventional centre-half position but in the centre of midfield.

There were also chances for Austria, the 29th-ranked Fifa team, and one of the 24 qualified Euros sides, who would have equalised were it not for substitute White’s goal-line clearance two minutes into stoppage time. There was a fine performance from the 17-year-old prodigy in midfield, Jude Bellingham, starting his first senior England game, and a well-taken goal by Saka, although ultimately all of it overshadowed by the injury to Alexander-Arnold.

There had been a nice fluency to the early part of the game with Grealish in possession establishing that useful habit he has of encouraging in the opponent every confidence that the ball is there to be won. Over he went, again and again, adopting the classic Grealish pose of a sitting position looking up at the referee, arms spread in disbelief that the thing that happens to him 10 to 15 times a game has happened again.

Jack Grealish was a constant threat for England - GETTY IMAGES
Jack Grealish was a constant threat for England - GETTY IMAGES

The new errant creative of the England team deceived the Austrians half-a-dozen times into making the foul, until gradually they got the message that this was a tackle best avoided. It was for that reason perhaps that he was given enough time with the ball at his feet in the 29th minute to shuffle it left to Harry Kane for the best chance of the first half that the captain could not squeeze in.

The formation was a simple 4-2-3-1 with Declan Rice and Bellingham holding. Lingard looked sharp, especially for one who could quite feasibly be on holiday or at the very least doing some serious quarantining en route to somewhere nice. Among the four who have been cut from the squad who came off the bench was Ben Godfrey, the second debutant after White, who as a second-half substitute almost slotted a back pass beyond Jordan Pickford with his second touch.

Before then there were a few moments when England’s very committed but very low-velocity centre-halves, Conor Coady and Tyrone Mings, looked a little exposed. The absence of Var was useful for the Aston Villa man on an occasion earlier in the game when he stepped brazenly into the path of centre-half Marco Friedl, in the England area, and body-checked the Austrian out of the phase of play. It was a clear penalty. England escaped that one.

The goal, when it came at last, 10 minutes after half-time, was testament to the number of players England were prepared to commit to the counterattack at the end of a long season of hard yards. In the end it was the man over – Saka – who had the job of finessing it in with his left foot from an angle that many may have missed from. The break was encouraging: Grealish, Kane, Lingard and then an intervention from Marcel Sabitzer which found the feet of the Arsenal man beyond the back post.

A tidy finish from the 19 year-old, on his fifth senior England cap. It would have been Grealish’s goal most likely were it not for Sabitzer’s tackle and that procession of five Englishmen swarming forward in attack looked impressive.

Bukayo Saka finished from a tight angle - AFP
Bukayo Saka finished from a tight angle - AFP

Then came the changes and disruption to the shape of the team. The goalkeeper Pickford had a good evening in general, saving well in the first half from Christoph Baumgartner and then getting the loose end of a gloved finger on a Sabitzer shot that just clipped the bar. It was only in the closing stages that Pickford failed to get a firm punch on a ball that he came for and the England penalty box was in a state of some emergency.

It was the closing stages that England looked rocky, with a header from Michael Gregoritsch just wide and then the injury to Alexander-Arnold that prefaced the late chance for Austria cleared by White. They held on, although they will hope that the cost is not too great.

Match details

England: Pickford, Alexander-Arnold, Coady, Mings (Godfrey 61), Trippier, Grealish (White 71), Rice (Ward-Prowse 62), Bellingham, Lingard (Watkins 61), Kane (Calvert-Lewin 61), Saka.
Subs not used: Johnstone, Ramsdale, Phillips, Henderson, Sancho.
Booked: Calvert-Lewin,Alexander-Arnold.

Austria: Bachmann, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Friedl, Lainer (Trimmel 81), Baumgartner (Schaub 62), Laimer (Grillitsch 62), Xaver Schlager (Baumgartlinger 81), Alaba (Schopf 71), Sabitzer, Kalajdzic (Gregoritsch 71).
Subs not used: Pervan, Alexander Schlager, Ilsanker, Lienhart, Posch, Ulmer.
Booked: Xaver Schlager, Lainer, Hinteregger.

Referee: Lawrence Visser (Belgium).

Southgate's Trent fears: 'We'll know in the next 24 to 48 hours'

By Matt Law

Gareth Southgate consoles Trent Alexander-Arnold - GETTY IMAGES
Gareth Southgate consoles Trent Alexander-Arnold - GETTY IMAGES

Trent Alexander-Arnold is facing European Championship heartache after limping out of England’s first warm-up game against Austria.

Having sweated on his place in manager Gareth Southgate’s final 26-man squad, Alexander-Arnold is now nervously waiting to find out whether he has been ruled out of the tournament through injury.

Alexander-Arnold shook his head after he was helped off the pitch near the end of England’s 1-0 victory at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium and the Liverpool star was visibly upset.

The injury occured when he cleared the ball with his left leg and then let out a cry of pain, before limping his way off the pitch, with the help of medics, and being consoled by Southgate, who said that he thought it was a thigh problem.

Southgate can call up a replacement for Alexander-Arnold if he has to pull out of the squad and the England manager will still have Reece James, Kyle Walker and Keiran Trippier to call on at right-back, having named Alexander as one of four players in the position.

“We're going to have a look,” said Southgate. “It's not good to see him come off in the way he did.

“It looks like his thigh, but we don’t know the extent at the moment. Clearly, it’s not a good sign that he had to walk off and he looked in some discomfort with it, but we’ll know more in the next 24 to 48 hours.”

On who would replace Alexander-Arnoled if he has to withdraw, Southgate said: “Let's see how Trent is and then we'll go from there. We don't know the full extent. The last thing you want is to see him come off in the way he did.

“All the players are going to stay with us through to the end of Sunday’s game anyway. We’ll make an assessment on the whole squad once we’ve got through that game. I’m very conscious we’ve got another 90 minutes to get through and, that alone, is a bit of a challenge for us really.”

Southgate also suffered an injury scare on Jordan Henderson, who had been due to play a part against Austria, on Wednesday that prevented him getting on the pitch.

“With Jordan, we had hoped to involve him today, that was the original plan but this morning he wasn’t so happy with how he felt,” said Southgate. “We’ve scanned him just to be certain, there’s no problem on the scan, so he’ll be able to resume training, but we’d taken a decision to leave him out of this game.”

Bukayo Saka scored England’s winning goal and, on his team’s performance, Southgate added: “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 bid disjointed and people had cramp. We were hanging on at the end. It was understandable given the changes.

“Jack Grealish showed some lovely touches. You can see he's still getting to full fitness - with the bursts you know he can make. He's a quality player.”

Sections of the Riverside Stadium crowd booed when the players took the knee ahead of kick-off, although they were eventually drowned out by applause.

“I did hear it,” said Southgate. “It’s not something on behalf of our black players that I wanted to hear because it feels as though it’s a criticism of them.

“I think we have got a situation where some people think it’s a political stand that they don’t agree with. That’s not the reason the players are doing it. We're supporting each other. So I was pleased that it was drowned out by the majority of the crowd, but we can’t deny the fact that it happened.

“I think the most important thing for our players to know is that all their team-mates, all the staff are fully supportive. I think the majority of people understand it, I think some people aren’t quite understanding the message. And I suppose we are seeing that across a number of football grounds at the moment.”

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08:59 PM

No news on Trent's injury yet

But he looked in a fair amount of pain after he was subbed off. He cleared a ball with his left foot and pulled up immediately.

Conor Coady and Trent Alexander-Arnold - REUTERS
Conor Coady and Trent Alexander-Arnold - REUTERS

08:51 PM

FULL TIME England 1 Austria 0

Bukayo Saka's first international goal enough to give England the win on the night - but Gareth Southgate will be left sweating on Trent Alexander-Arnold's fitness after he hobbled off late on.

08:49 PM

90+2 mins England 1 Austria 0

Off the line! Austria launch it long into the box and Pickford punches away - but straight at an Austrian player. Schopf takes a touch and fires at goal, but his attempt is cleared off the line by White.

08:47 PM

90 mins England 1 Austria 0

Alexander-Arnold has been subbed off. It doesn't look great - he motioned to be taken off immediately and looks pretty miffed as he walks down the side of the pitch.

08:45 PM

88 mins England 1 Austria 0

Uh oh. It looks like Alexander-Arnold may have tweaked something...and as he's struggling Austria miss their best chance with Gregoritsch's header from a good position drifting wide.

08:42 PM

84 mins England 1 Austria 0

All a bit scrappy now. Perhaps no surprise with so many subs.

08:37 PM

80 mins England 1 Austria 0

Good save from Pickford. Sabitzer hits a dipping, swerving effort from 25 yards but the England keeper claws it away.

08:35 PM

77 mins England 1 Austria 0

Chance! Saka plays Calvert-Lewin in but he delays shooting when he has an opening at the corner of the box. He opts to cross but there's no-one coming in at the back post.

08:32 PM

Saka's goal

Here it is

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08:28 PM

Another England sub

Grealish off, White on. Looks like England will be going to three at the back with Trippier and Alexander-Arnold as wing-backs.

08:26 PM

69 mins England 1 Austria 0

Nice link-up between Villa team-mates Watkins and Grealish down England's left. The latter sends an inviting ball across the box but there's no-one there to get on the end of it.

08:21 PM

65 mins England 1 Austria 0

Austria hit the bar! A looping strike from Sabitzer and Pickford tips it on to the woodwork. Good save.

08:21 PM

63 mins England 1 Austria 0

Nervy start from Godfrey on his debut - he passes the ball towards an empty net with his first touch! But he has his Everton team-mate Pickford to thanks for sparing his blushes. The keeper dashed back and boots the ball clear.

08:19 PM

England substitutions

OFF: Rice, Mings, Lingard, Kane

ON: Ward-Prowse, Godfrey, Calvert-Lewin, Watkins

08:16 PM

60 mins England 1 Austria 0

Sabitzer has a bit of space at the edge of the box but Coady races to close down and does well to divert it out for a corner.

08:14 PM

GOALLL England 1 (Saka) Austria 0

Incisive quick break from England and they have the breakthrough. Kane plays it into Lingard who lays it first time to Grealish.

An Austrian defender gets his toe to the ball as the Villa captain is about to pull the trigger but it falls to Saka at the back post and he slides into an empty net!

08:09 PM

52 mins England 0 Austria 0

Lovely persistence from Saka, who robs Lainer but then slips over. He picks himself up, plays on and retrieves the ball to push forward- only to be hacked down by the same player. Lainer receives a deserved yellow card.

08:05 PM

48 mins England 0 Austria 0

Nice spell of possession for the visitors to start this half. They're keeping the ball confidently in England's half and have Southgate's side pinned back.

08:02 PM

Lingard gets the second half under way

Hopefully a bit more goalmouth action in the next 45 minutes.

08:01 PM

No subs for England at half-time

By the look of things. They'll kick-off in the second half.

07:55 PM

International football friendly

In being fairly underwhelming shocker. Although to be fair to the Austrians they haven't been shy about putting their foot in - Grealish in particular has been on the receiving end of some hefty challenges.

07:49 PM

Talking of Kane's chance

Here it is - nice closing down from Saka to win the ball back and a well-weighted pass from Grealish

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07:47 PM

HALF-TIME - England 0 Austria 0

England had the best of that but other than Kane's chance they haven't created many clear-cut opportunities.

07:46 PM

44 mins England 0 Austria 0

You lucky boy Daniel Bachmann! The Austria keeper gets the ball stuck under his feet and just about manages to evade Kane who charges in to close him down.

Nearly an embarrassing moment for the Watford man. Oohs and ahhs in the crowd.

07:42 PM

41 mins England 0 Austria 0

Baumgartner somehow manages to bundle his way through the England back-line and is closing in on Pickford, but Mings swoops across to intercept and diverts the ball out for a corner. The Austrian cries out for handball but not sure Mings could get out of the way there.

07:37 PM

36 mins England 0 Austria 0

Austria's first shot on target - but it's a tame daisy-cutter from about 25 yards from Kalajdzic and Pickford gathers with ease.

07:33 PM

33 mins England 0 Austria 0

Austria with their first spell of possession for a while, but it's stodgy stuff - from side to side at the back. Then they loft a hopeful ball forward and gift England the ball back. Not great from the visitors so far.

07:32 PM

Grealish has been in the wars

England's Jack Grealish in action with Austria's Stefan Lainer - REUTERS
England's Jack Grealish in action with Austria's Stefan Lainer - REUTERS

07:30 PM

29 mins England 0 Austria 0

Great save! Saka wins the ball back for England high up the field and lays it off to Grealish on the edge of the box. He feeds a lovely ball to Kane who's through on goal - but Bachmann closes down the angle and blocks the strike. Brave keeping.

07:29 PM

28 mins England 0 Austria 0

Alexander-Arnold hits the free kick, which comes off the wall and loops up. Kane chases it in and nearly sneaks it past the keeper. Austria do well to clear.

07:28 PM

27 mins England 0 Austria 0

Jack Grealish really does have an incredible ability to win fouls. He's brought down twice in the space of 20 seconds - and wins his side a free-kick on the second occasion...on the left edge of the Austria box.

07:25 PM

25 mins England 0 Austria 0

We haven't seen much from Austria as an attacking force so far. They're definitely happy to put their foot in when they're defending though.

07:23 PM

24 mins England 0 Austria 0

Alexander-Arnold works a little one-two with Kane and tries to find Saka who's arriving at the back post but it's blocked and out for a corner.

07:21 PM

21 mins England 0 Austria 0

Chance! Lingard dinks a cross into the box and it ends up dropping to Saka at the back post. But he's leaning back on the volley and sends it high, wide and not very handsome.

07:20 PM

20 mins England 0 Austria 0

That's the first yellow card of the evening. Saka nips in ahead of Schlager who scythes him down - and goes in the book.

07:17 PM

16 mins England 0 Austria 0

Saka's free-kick from the left is cleared to Bellingham on the edge of the area. He strikes it on the half volley but it's deflected and ends up in the Austrian keeper's gloves.

07:16 PM

15 mins England 0 Austria 0

A slight delay as Saka stayed down after taking a knock. But he's up and fit to carry on.

Oof - now Grealish is on the receiving end of a heavy tackle. Not particularly friendly so far!

07:12 PM

11 mins England 0 Austria 0

England have the ball in the net but it won't count as the referee had already blown for a foul on Mings. Lingard thrashed it at goal regardless and it looked like a lovely flick from Bellingham helped it into the net.

07:11 PM

10 mins England 0 Austria 0

Lovely stuff from England who work it smoothly from right to left. Saka is one on one with his full-back, beats him and gets a cross in but it's blocked and goes out for a corner.

07:08 PM

8 mins England 0 Austria 0

It looks like England have started in more of a 4-2-3-1.

Rice and Bellingham in a double pivot and Grealish as a No 10 flanked by Saka and Lingard, with Kane up top.

07:06 PM

5 mins England 0 Austria 0

Bellingham has a free header from the resulting corner but it's straight at Austria keeper Bachmann.

07:05 PM

4 mins England 0 Austria 0

Close! Lovely ball from Kane who slips in a rampaging Alexander-Arnold on the right wing. He takes the shot on from the edge of the box and it's tipped over the bar.

07:03 PM

2 mins England 0 Austria 0

Ouch. Bellingham gets crunched early on in the centre of the park.

07:00 PM

Kick-off at the Riverside

Austria get us under way.

06:57 PM

And here's the England manager on Jude Bellingham

He's not in the 26 just for the journey. He's a player that's impressed us enormously throughout the season and showed real maturity...we're looking forward to seeing him in the game. He's trained with real maturity.

06:54 PM

Southgate on Alexander-Arnold

What we want him to do is have that freedom to get forward. It's important he feels he can play the game that suits him and we've got to make sure people are aware of the types of passes and crosses he can deliver. Although we have a structure in the team to bear in mind [we want to] get the best from the qualities of the individuals.

06:48 PM

Blast from the past

England's last game at the Riverside was 18 years ago...way back in June 2003.

They beat Slovakia 2-1 with Michael Owen scoring twice on his 50th game for his country.

And a certain Gareth Southgate started at the heart of England's defence.

06:47 PM

England players warming up

England vs Austria, Euro 2021 warm-up: live score and latest updates  - GETTY IMAGES
England vs Austria, Euro 2021 warm-up: live score and latest updates - GETTY IMAGES
England vs Austria, Euro 2021 warm-up: live score and latest updates  - GETTY IMAGES
England vs Austria, Euro 2021 warm-up: live score and latest updates - GETTY IMAGES

06:43 PM

Euro 2021 Predictor

Fancy yourself as a football guru? Then we've got the perfect tool for you.

Plot your route to the final and pick the tournament winner with Telegraph Sport's predictor

06:37 PM

'Anything we get from them at Euros is a bonus'

That's a decent summary of Gareth Southgate's view on Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson in a pre-match interview. Interesting.

06:31 PM

The numbers game

An examination of England's Euro 2021 squad numbers - and what they mean

06:25 PM

A big night for this young man

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And, helpfully, here's a piece outlining just how impressive he has been for Borussia Dortmund this season:

06:23 PM

Plenty of attacking intent

From Gareth Southgate tonight - and it will be interesting to see how he sets this side up.

A 4-3-3 with Grealish in midfield? Or Rice and Bellingham in a double pivot with Grealish further forward?? Needless to say it will look slightly different against Croatia on June 13...

And here's reminder of tonight's team if you're only just joining us:

Pickford, Alexander-Arnold, Coady, Mings, Trippier, Grealish, Rice, Bellingham, Lingard, Kane, Saka

06:16 PM

Austria's starting XI

Bachmann, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Friedl, Lainer, Baumgartner, Laimer, Xaver Schlager, Alaba, Sabitzer, Kalajdzic.

David Alaba and Marcel Sabitzer are the names that jumps out of that line-up. Alaba is on the move this summer after his contract at Bayern Munich ran down - he's off to Real Madrid.

06:08 PM

Jamie Carragher's verdict

England's attack is formidable but tournaments are won in defence - and ours worries me

Read what the Telegraph Sport columnist has to say about Gareth Southgate's selection here.

06:00 PM

Some pre-match reading

Here's a full rundown of England's 26-man squad for the Euros - and what each player can bring to the team.

05:56 PM

Bellingham and Alexander-Arnold start

Trippier at left back. No Chelsea, Man City or Man Utd players in the squad after their involvement in the Europa League and Champions League finals.

05:44 PM

England team news

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05:39 PM

Good evening and welcome

To our live coverage of England's Euro 2021 warm-up fixture against Austria.

After plenty of cogitation and speculation about who would be picked in England's final squad for the Euros, Gareth Southgate named his 26-man party on Tuesday - and it includes four right-backs.

But the squad for this game at the Riverside Stadium in Middlesbrough includes players from the provisional squad who weren't selected for the tournament - including Jesse Lingard, James Ward-Prowse and Ollie Watkins.

With the mixed nature of England's team tonight - and the likes of Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson still on the way back from injury - you'd imagine Southgate will want to use this to get players some match fitness rather than expecting a hugely cohesive performance.

On the subject of Maguire, the Manchester United centre-half told The Sun today that his ankle injury is "improving and getting better...I am just looking forward to the Euros".

The 28-year-old central defender has been sidelined since picking up the knock during Manchester United's Premier League win at Aston Villa on May 9.

He missed United's defeat to Villarreal in the Europa League final and Southgate had suggested it would be a "tight" call on whether he can be involved at the Euros. England's first group game is against Croatia on June 13.

Before tonight's game gets under way we've got all the best reaction to England's Euros selection for you to peruse.

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