Cyprus Mail

England beat Austria in friendly, France sink Wales

england v austria international friendly riverside stadium
Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka's first international goal was the winner against Austria

Teenage winger Bukayo Saka scored his first senior international goal for England on Wednesday as Gareth Southgate’s side beat Austria 1-0 in a friendly warm-up for the Euro 2020 championship.

After a tepid first half in front of some 7,000 fans at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, the 19-year-old broke the deadlock with a 56th minute tap-in from a tight angle.

Southgate rested Manchester City and Chelsea players after last Saturday’s Champions League final in Portugal, with Jesse Lingard starting a day after being cut from the tournament squad.

There was also a first senior start for Borussia Dortmund’s 17-year-old midfielder Jude Bellingham, while Brighton & Hove Albion defender Ben White collected his first cap as a 71st minute substitute.

England ended with 10 men after right back Trent Alexander-Arnold, a much-discussed inclusion in Southgate’s final 26-man squad, appeared to pull a muscle two minutes from time and with nobody near him.

Karim Benzema missed a penalty and hit the post but delivered a fine performance in his France comeback as the world champions beat 10-man Wales 3-0 in a Euro 2020 warm-up game on Wednesday.

The Real Madrid striker, back in the squad after a hiatus of more than five years following a row with coach Didier Deschamps, helped his team mates shine with Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele finding the back of the net.

Wales threatened early on but had their wings clipped when Neco Williams was shown a straight red card for handling the ball from a Benzema attempt, which led to the forward missing a penalty in the 27th minute.

France play Bulgaria next Tuesday before starting their Euro 2020 campaign against Germany in Group F, where they will also face Hungary and defending champions Portugal.

Wales were drawn in Group A with Switzerland, Turkey and Italy.

Netherlands captain Memphis Depay curled home a free kick with two minutes remaining to grab a 2-2 draw that denied Scotland a surprise win in their friendly at the Estadio Algarve in Portugal on Wednesday.

Depay scored both goals for his team but the result was a major psychological boost for Scotland with both countries preparing for the European Championship.

Scotland, without seven players following a positive COVID-19 case at their training camp in Spain, led after 11 minutes through a rasping shot from Jack Hendry and went 2-1 ahead after 63 minutes when Kevin Nisbet tucked away a cross from Andy Robertson on the left.

The Dutch had equalised six minutes after Scotland’s opener when Depay struck home a left-footed volley after being cleverly set up by captain Georginio Wijnaldum’s deft header.

It was a well executed goal that suggested the Dutch would overcome the early setback and turn their dominance of possession into a comfortable win but a gritty Scotland had other ideas.

Hendry opened the scoring after stealing the ball as Depay and Stuart Armstrong scrapped in midfield and cracked it home with precision from just outside the area.

Scotland’s second goal was also impressive as Nisbet got a strong connection to direct Robertson’s cross into the net with his first touch after coming on as a substitute.

The Dutch, who took Wijnaldum and fellow key midfielder Frenkie de Jong off after only 30 minutes as a precaution, applied heavy pressure at the end in a bid to stave off defeat and got the equaliser as Depay curled home a free kick that secured a deserved share of the spoils.

A total of seven Scotland players did not travel following a positive coronavirus test for midfielder John Fleck. David Marshall, Grant Hanley, John McGinn, Che Adams, Stephen O’Donnell and Nathan Patterson all stayed behind at Scotland’s training base in Spain as a precaution.

Both countries have one more warm-up game before the European Championship. The Dutch return from their training base in Portugal to take on Georgia in Enschede on Sunday when Scotland visit Luxembourg.

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