Goals from Marcus Rashford and Danny Welbeck were enough to see England secure a routine win over Costa Rica at Elland Road on Thursday evening.
The Three Lions now head to Russia in fine form after securing a morale-boosting win in their last warm-up match before the World Cup in Russia. Gareth Southgate’s men seized the advantage through a wonderful strike from Rashford in only the 13th minute. The game was bookended well as Welbeck headed home with only 14 minutes on the clock to secure a solid victory for England.
Rashford rockets in ahead of Russian adventure
The first opportunity of the game fell the way of England and Manchester United defender, Phil Jones. From Fabian Delph’s corner, the 26-year-old looped a header towards goal, only to see Keylor Navas tip the ball over the bar.
The Three Lions did not have to wait long to hit the front, however, as Rashford struck a wonderful goal to claim the lead. Finding space from just outside the area, the youngster unleashed an unstoppable dipping shot into the far top corner to give England the perfect start.
Southgate’s men could well have doubled the lead as a loose ball fell to Jamie Vardy at the back post. A fantastic reaction save from Navas thwarted the Leicester City frontman, though.
Costa Rica finally challenge
Costa Rica created their first chance of note mid-way through the first period through Yohan Venegas. The Portland Timbers man tried his luck from range but a solid stop from Jack Butland deflected the ball away and preserved England’s slender advantage.
The second-half begun at a comparatively lower pace, and as a result it was Marco Ureña who got the first sight of goal. Butland was wise and smothered his low shot with ease.
Good play from England presented Jordan Henderson with an opportunity from outside the area. The Liverpool man’s thunderous shot was palmed away by Navas. The Three Lions went even closer from the resultant corner but Brian Oviedo’s vital goal-line clearance prevented Harry Maguire’s low header from nestling into the bottom corner.
England look to earn another shut out
As the game begun to draw to a close, it was naturally England who created all of the chances. Kieran Trippier, who had replaced Trent Alexander-Arnold, set his sights from a free-kick. His curling effort drifted just wide of the upright.
Fellow substitute, Danny Rose, had a chance on the volley at the back post but only served to skew his effort just wide.
The ball was in the net only minutes later through yet another second-half alteration, Danny Welbeck. He was picked out by an excellent cross from Dele Alli and it was an easy job as he nodded the ball over the line with a diving header into the unguarded net to round off a satisfying evening for England and Southgate.
Most will see this match as an extremely valuable run-out for the Three Lions. The majority of the squad got to feature, and in honesty, they were not troubled all too much by Costa Rica. The Central American outfit really did not threaten at all offensively.
As a result, England head to the World Cup in great health having secured two victories in their warm-up games and will look forward to their opening clash against Tunisia. Elsewhere, Costa Rica will now turn their attentions to the first game in Russia with Serbia.
England: Butland (6) (Pope (6), 65′); Jones (7), Stones (6) (Cahill (6), 65′), Maguire (7); Alexander-Arnold (6) (Trippier (6), 64′), Loftus-Cheek (7) (Lingard (N/A), 79′), Henderson (7) (Alli (7), 64′), Delph (7), Rose (6); Vardy (5) (Welbeck (7), 61′), Rashford (7).
Costa Rica: Navas (6); Calvo (6), González (5), Watson (7); Oviedo (7) (Matarrita (6), 60′), Borges (6), Guzmán (6), Gamboa (6) (Smith (5), 72′); Campbell (5) (Bolaños (6), 61′), Venegas (6); Ureña (6).
Goals: Rashford (13′), Welbeck (76′)
Referee: Hiroyuki Kimura
Yellow Cards: González (68′)
Red Cards: N/A
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