There was another Jack Grealish Show in another England win, James Ward-Prowse boosted his chances of being Player 26, and Jordan Henderson is on the naughty step.
Outrageous save to deny Romania an equaliser in the 74th minute, getting back to his feet and scrambling across goal to divert a powerful close-range Andrei Ivan volley over the crossbar. A moment that turned an unfussily solid England debut into about as memorable one as can reasonably be expected from a low-key friendly in Middlesbrough. Some clean sheets on nights like this can arrive almost by default for England keepers, but Johnstone really had to earn his. Which is great news for him, but maybe not so much for the rest of us.
Filled in at right-back where England are of course now desperately short. Did fine, but it was no surprise that most of England’s forward threat came via the Shaw-Grealish-Rashford axis on the other side of the pitch. Seems unlikely that he will be added to England’s squad as emergency fourth-choice right-back, but our Gareth sure does love those right-backs.
Very good indeed in all the ways you expect Shaw to be good. Prominent in most of England’s best attacking work and linked up nicely with Grealish in a way that England fans would like to see more of over the next month and might have United fans hoping to see it on a more permanent basis. Villa fans too, I suppose, if Shaw can be persuaded to make the move.
Sloppy start, a lapse of concentration gifting Romania a corner inside two minutes, and it rather set the tone for a ragged defensive performance all round. Probably still best placed to start on the left of defence if Maguire is out of the Croatia game and Southgate opts for a three. Which doesn’t particularly fill us with confidence to be honest.
If you were picking a squad based purely on this game, you would pick White ahead of Mings but be deeply worried about the whole thing. Looked more assured than his more senior colleague, which leaves the glass as half empty or half full as you wish.
A safe and dependable performance from a safe and dependable player who is thriving under a manager with a fondness for safe and dependable. Lacks the dynamism of Rice and if we’re being honest the pure talent of Bellingham, but he does a job in every game he plays for England and nothing changed here on that front.
If Jack Grealish is in the team (see below for more on that) then Ward-Prowse becomes an interesting midfield option given his set-piece prowess and how often Grealish gets booted up in the air. Delivery was consistently excellent, especially the whipped free-kick in the second half that seemed certain to lead to an opening goal. Did his chances of being Player 26 no harm at all if Southgate decides it’s midfield where reinforcement is needed, which is probably the case.
Whacked the crossbar with a fizzing drive that was probably the standout moment of the first half. Which isn’t really saying all that much. Decent, though. Absolutely in contention to start against Croatia on current form in what is obviously going to be Southgate’s Big Decision and one which he has absolutely zero chance of negotiating without pissing off a lot of people.
Cheered for his winning goal by the same idiots who booed him and his team-mates for taking the knee. Dr Marcus Rashford MBE and now matchwinning England captain at 23. Not bad. In truth, though, a mixed performance. Penalty method guaranteed to have annoyed yer da every bit as much as everything else he does, but the result was emphatic. Running and movement excellent throughout, but final decision-making not always on point. Disappointingly failed even to get a shot away after being found by Grealish in the second half which rather summed it up.
It’s reductive and banal to assert that he “must start”. England have loads of good and exciting players in those spots around Harry Kane, and any of them could be starters. However, Grealish must start. He was yet again head and shoulders clear of anyone else on the pitch, won the penalty that was scored and was just a constant utter menace. According to my notes, he was fouled eleventy times in 90 minutes and was constantly surrounded by at least three Romanian players who still rarely managed to stop him by fair means and only sometimes managed it by foul. He’s a wonder. He could create havoc over the next month and is the sort of player that demands the attention of multiple opponents. Even when they do manage to stop him, with the time and space it inevitably affords to the quality of player England will have around him it remains a battle only half won. Realistically, because Southgate, we’re probably still looking at (absolutely top quality) ‘impact sub’ at least at the start of the tournament. Far less certain that it remains that way by its conclusion.
Hit the bar with cracking long-range header from teasing Ward-Prowse set-piece and won a penalty. Has done nothing in an England shirt to suggest he should be anything more or less than Harry Kane’s understudy which is definitely more praise than criticism.
JORDAN HENDERSON (on for Phillips, 46)
Hmm. Not the finest (three quarters of an) hour for the veteran midfielder – and in this squad 30 makes you practically a timelord – as he wandered around the middle of the pitch at half-pace for the most part on his return to action after 108 days out. His one standout moment, the pass that set Calvert-Lewin away to win England’s second penalty, was immediately undone by insisting on taking the penalty himself and making a bollocks of it. Thus remains one of seven England outfield players to earn 50-plus caps and never score a goal. Southgate clearly wasn’t happy about it either, saying after the game: “We were expecting Dominic to take it, I was expecting Hendo to walk over and tell Dominic to take it. I will see what Hendo’s thought process was. Maybe we will pull rank next time.” In Southgatese, he’s pretty much called him a c**t there.
DECLAN RICE (on for Ward-Prowse, 65)
Perfectly fine. Will definitely start against Croatia and nothing he or anyone else did here suggests that is anything other than entirely correct.
JUDE BELLINGHAM (on for Sancho, 65)
Denied a first England goal by a close-range save. Another very decent 25 minutes in what is going to be a very long and important England career.
KIERAN TRIPPIER (for Shaw, 75)
The form of Shaw and Ben Chilwell means these might just be the last 15 minutes of Kieran Trippier, England left-back. We have great fondness in our hearts for Trippier, but we also desperately hope this is the case.
JESSE LINGARD (for Rashford, 75)
Some nice touches and really still could be England’s 26th player.
OLLIE WATKINS (for Calvert-Lewin, 82)
Took up an excellent position at the back post to create a wonderful chance for his second England goal, which was good. Stabbed wide from close range after taking up an excellent position at the back post to create a wonderful chance for his second England goal, which was bad.