An inexperienced England team beat Wales 3-0 in the first match of the Three Lions at Wembley Stadium in almost a year, the trio scoring for the first time.
After a slow start, Dominic Calvert-Levine, Connor Cody and Danny Inks reached first goals internationally as Gareth Southgate changed things before two Nations League games.
Arsenal’s Buccaneer Saga made his debut with Calvert-Levine, who had three fewer caps than his manager had ever won in his career, with both Jack Graylish and the Inks handing over their first starts on one side.
Despite taking in more numbers than he had ever encountered during his reign following the last camp, Southgate were stuck in back form with the trio, who were held to a 0-0 draw in Denmark last month.
With almost half an hour on the clock, Southgate would have been forgiven for being dragged. His England side – despite the changes – sat unnecessarily and struggled to impose themselves, as they had in Copenhagen, until a small invention from the Grealish triggered three lions in life.
Graylish said he wanted to reveal his identity this week and the Aston Villa captain was looking for an opportunity to do just that.
Starting on the left, the winger went to the opposite side, where he went behind Wales’ back line, collecting the ball from Kieran Trippier, crossing Ethan Arrow and finding a place to cross.
His amazing clipping ball found Calvert-Levine, who sent his title in generally excellent style to mark his debut following the start of the season.
Despite taking the lead, the hosts have not been able to push their advantage home when it comes to dominant activities.
But when things aren’t so clicky, Southgate’s page still sets the sleeve pieces. Trippier, who handed over the shield for the first time in his international career tonight, was responsible for most of the bowling that brought England victory from set pieces during the World Cup two years ago, and showed he still had a second set.
Greelish, all-action in his first start, won a free-kick on the right, while Tripper sent a tall cross into the far post, where he smashed the house in the second start for the Crore Lions.
After Southgate weeks, when players had to be reminded of what it means to wear an England shirt, the reaction of his players is that hats for some of these players still mean something.
With a two-goal cushion, Southgate made changes, and Southampton striker Ings was replaced from the wasted side instead of the first hour of the game. It didn’t take long forward to prove that he was very dangerous through the middle.
Michael Keane and Tyrone Mings fell from a corner where the Inks were ready and waited in space as he hit his first England goal with an acrobatic bicycle kick.
England were very comfortable now: Saga denied his first goal by Wayne Hennessy, who saved late from Ings and James Ward-Bruce.
There would have been worries in the first half, but this friendship has always allowed Southgate to learn a little more about some of the more inexperienced members of his team, with very little time to go before the euros.
Gresh made a strong case for becoming an England regular, while both Saga and Calvert-Levine settled quickly.
It’s back to the familiar faces against Belgium this weekend, but only Southgate’s options are growing.
This is what it means to score your first England goal!
After a slow start, it turned out to be a good night for England. They were the best in the second half and could have scored more than their three goals.
Four debuts a night – Saga, Calvert-Levine, Barnes and James – and Gareth Southgate were able to give most of her more established stars a night out.
Full time | England 3-0 Wales |
90 minutes: Two minutes will be added …
86 minutes: Chris Membham in Wales now needs treatment and I think they have already used their mates.
83 minutes: Within the final ten minutes England were just moving towards another goal. Harvey Barnes feeds Maidland-Niles, who dances in the box, but eventually leaves the crowd.
England are recycling it and the Inks are rolling an attempt towards the top corner, but Hennessy is making another good save.
Jack Roser for Standard Sport
England has grown in this sport and is now more than comfortable. As for the changes he has made, he would have made it a point to learn more about some of the people for Southgate tonight.
Jack Creelish put on a great show in his first opening and revealed his identity following his vows earlier this week.
75 minutes: England are playing some happy things now. Another three transitions and the introduction of James Ward-Bruce, Ainsley Maidland-Niles and Harvey Barnes as Wings, Graylish and Saga.
70 minutes: What a savings!
As England advances back through the Grealish, he feeds to Mount, where he slides into the saga. The Arsenal man’s strike takes a little nick and Wayne Hennessy stops a foot and stops a crack.
66 minutes: The UK is enjoying themselves now, especially Jack Graylish. The Villa man faces the goal, but the Inks are on his heels. There would have been four.
The goal! | England 3-0 Wales | Danny Inks 63 ‘
Tyrone Mings knocks a corner past the goal and Danny Inks makes an amazing bicycle kick.
I mean, again this is an absolutely shocking reference. England scored three goals from a distance of about eight yards and were one meter short of any points as a Welsh defender.
59 minutes: Danny Ings has had a pretty quiet game so far, but now he will get a chance through the middle. Mason Mount will become an attacking character.
58 minutes: Three transitions for England – Gomez, Calvert-Levine, Tripper – have Reese James, Tyrone Mings and Mason Mount.
57 minutes: Ethan Arrow is in the book for the third time in 11 minutes as Jack Graylish.
The goal! | England 2-0 Wales | Connor Cody 53 ‘
Kieran Trippier in his best way. It’s an absolutely brilliant ball, a free-kick, ‘Finish me!’
Connor Cody, who is unaware of his goals, is doing it outside of his start, and you will not find that many are happy to get their first England goal.
49 minutes: Jack Greelish is straight in the battles, catching a very large one from Ethan Arrow, but a beautiful burial for half.
We’re walking again …
I hope to see a lot of changes going into the second half, which doesn’t do much for the rhythm, so Gareth Southgate will hope to impress his team here early on.
It may have been a long way from fluent acting from England and Wales, but Dominic Calvert-Levine’s debut goal, brilliantly created by Jack Graylisch, has Gareth Southgate’s side ahead.
Half time | England 1-0 Wales |
Update the process just as it did on Standard Sport!