England 1-0 Australia: Ollie Watkins scores only goal in international friendly at Wembley13 October 2023
Ollie Watkins marked his return to the England side with the winner as Gareth Southgate's side overcame Australia in a friendly at Wembley.
Aston Villa striker Watkins turned in Jack Grealish's shot from almost on the goalline just before the hour in one of the few positive moments in a largely undistinguished England display.
Watkins made amends for hitting the post with a good chance in the first half as Australia paid the price for not taking advantage of several opportunities before the break.
In a game which saw Stephanie Frappart become the first female referee to take charge of a men's international at Wembley, England were fortunate not to be behind at half-time.
Sam Johnstone, given his chance in goal, saved well from Keanu Baccus while Mitchell Duke volleyed inches wide and Lewis Dunk cleared off the line from Ryan Strain.
Australia also wasted a good chance to level late on when Connor Metcalfe hit the post with a header as England secured a morale-boosting win before Tuesday's Euro 2024 qualifier with Italy at Wembley.
There was one contentious moment amid a very subdued atmosphere when the name of Jordan Henderson, England's captain for the night with Harry Kane left on the bench, was jeered as Southgate's substitutions were announced to the crowd after 62 minutes.
Henderson's decision to pursue his career with Al-Ettifaq in the Saudi Pro League after leaving Liverpool has attracted criticism and it was clear many among the Wembley gallery wanted to make their feelings known as he walked off.
No threats to England's established stars
This was a low-key affair from start to finish, although Watkins will be delighted to get back on the mark for England with the simplest of finishes to settle this game.
It was an important moment for the 27-year-old - who has just been handed a new five-year contract at Villa as reward for his outstanding early season form - because he had endured a frustrating night up to that point.
Watkins may consider himself unlucky to hit the post with an angled first half effort but he should have scored after rounding Australia keeper Mathew Ryan.
What is never in doubt with Watkins is his effort and application. There was no let-up in his work ethic and he was on the spot to take the simple chance for his goal after 57 minutes.
Crystal Palace keeper Johnstone had a very steady night in in goal, including that good save from Baccus while Dunk also made his mark with that vital clearance off the line from Strain.
Elsewhere, England did not flow and often looked like strangers, perhaps understandable as Southgate fielded an experimental line-up before the crucial Wembley date with Italy, giving first caps to Chelsea's Levi Colwill in his starting line-up then Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah as a late substitute.
None of England's shadow squad let themselves down but nor did anyone give Southgate pause for thought as he weighs up his future options.
Attention now switches to Tuesday, when Southgate will turn to his world-class stars such as captain Kane and Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham, who were kept back and will be fresh as England attempt to take another significant step towards next summer's Euro 2024 finals in Germany.
- 6TomoriSubstituted forStonesat 62'minutes
- 3ColwillBooked at 34mins
- 4GallagherBooked at 35minsSubstituted forPhillipsat 62'minutes
- 8HendersonSubstituted forTrippierat 62'minutes
- 10MaddisonSubstituted forFodenat 73'minutes
- 7GrealishSubstituted forRashfordat 61'minutes
- 9WatkinsSubstituted forNketiahat 73'minutes
- 13StrainBooked at 40minsSubstituted forMillerat 74'minutes
- 4RowlesSubstituted forBehichat 83'minutes
- 6BoyleSubstituted forMabilat 83'minutes
- 20BaccusBooked at 34mins
- 22IrvineBooked at 79mins
- 10GoodwinSubstituted forBorrelloat 73'minutes
- 8MetcalfeSubstituted forTouréat 90'minutes
- 15DukeSubstituted forBosat 73'minutes
- Stéphanie Frappart
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