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England 3-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina: Palmer, Alexander-Arnold, and Kane Lead Victory at St James’ Park

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 different from the one set to play against Serbia in their Euro 2024 opener in 13 days’ time initially struggled to create against Bosnia’s new manager Sergej Barbarez’s defensive setup. Eberechi Eze and Cole Palmer were two of the few bright spots for Gareth Southgate in the first half. However, the Three Lions emerged from the dressing room rejuvenated, eventually overpowering their opponents. Palmer netted his first goal for England from the penalty spot on the hour mark after VAR detected a shirt pull on Ezri Konsa in the area. Shortly after, Trent Alexander-Arnold scored a sublime second goal with a cushioned volley into the far corner.

Harry Kane, who was substituted in moments after Palmer’s opener, added a late third with a classic poacher’s finish, celebrating his 90th England cap by poking home from a corner to give the hosts a margin of victory that somewhat flattered their overall performance.

After the game, Southgate acknowledged that some players’ performances had given him a “selection headache” ahead of Friday’s deadline to pick his final 26-man squad. “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 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.”

Southgate’s experimental line-up, assembled just four days before he finalizes his squad for Germany, was tasked with showcasing their ability to play the team’s style. Initially, England struggled to break through Bosnia’s five-man backline, which was set up to frustrate them. England’s best moment of the first half came when Palmer turned with his first touch and fed Ollie Watkins into the box, only for the forward to be denied by goalkeeper Nikola Vasilj at the near post.

The lack of intensity typical in pre-tournament friendlies was evident when Marc Guehi’s poor pass presented Bosnia’s best chance to Haris Hajradinovic, whose shot from 20 yards was deflected behind. Despite the slow first half, Southgate kept faith in his starting line-up, resisting changes at the break. His patience was rewarded as England dominated the second half. Watkins headed over a corner, and Palmer saw a shot blocked from another quick move before earning and converting a penalty.

Kane, introduced alongside other experienced players, initially struggled but eventually contributed to the scoreline. Alexander-Arnold, who started in central midfield before moving to right-back, scored England’s second with a superb volley from a tight angle, set up by Jack Grealish. Kane then sealed the victory with his 63rd goal for England, pouncing on a loose ball from a corner.

Southgate praised the performances of Eze and Palmer, highlighting their contributions to the team’s attacking potency. Eze’s movement and power were notable, while Palmer’s creativity and precision impressed. Kane, who played for half an hour, will start the next game against Iceland at Wembley.

Overall, England’s second-half performance showcased their potential and gave Southgate valuable insights as he finalizes his squad for Euro 2024.

The key dates for England

All times BST

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

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

Saturday June 8 – Final 26-player squad announced

Monday June 10 – England squad fly to Germany

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

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

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

Credit: Sky Sports

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