International Soccer

Player ratings as Palmer scores first international goal

England began their preparations for Euro 2024 as second-half goals from Cole Palmer, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Kane handed them a straightforward victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina at St James’ Park on Monday night.

A forgetful game sparked into life when Palmer grabbed his first Three Lions strike from the penalty spot before Liverpool star Alexander-Arnold bagged the second with a well-placed volley.

Some six-yard box pinball action saw regular captain Kane rattle in his 63rd goal for his country to seal the victory.

Gareth Southgate’s side have another match against Iceland on Friday night before their campaign in Germany gets underway with their Group C opener against Serbia.

How the game unfolded

England‘s much-changed starting XI included starts for the likes of Palmer, Eberechi Eze and Ollie Watkins as each aimed to send a message to manager Gareth Southgate in the first of their two pre-Euro 2024 friendlies.

There was no rip-roaring start from the hosts, however. While Alexander-Arnold pulled off a few wondrous cross-field passes and Eze breezed past some opposition challenges with ease, there were some worrying lapses at the back that would have been punished by teams of higher pedigree.

Rugged centre-forward play from Watkins did yield the first chance for the Aston Villa star. The former Brentford striker wrestled away from a challenge and got his shot away, though Bosnia and Herzegovina goalkeeper Nikola Vasilj stood big enough to make the save.

The impressive Eze did well to drive forward and find Palmer, with the ball eventually dropping to Chelsea teammate Conor Gallagher who lifted his shot over the bar.

The visitors’ clear deep-sitting tactics undoubtedly made the first half a more grim watch than perhaps anticipated and the half-time whistle blew with England knowing they had plenty more to do to get their preparations for the summer off to a good start.

No changes arrived at the start of the second half with Southgate clearly looking to give some of his fringe attackers a greater look, but it took an error from Benjamin Tahirovic to give the Three Lions the chance to open the scoring.

The Ajax midfielder yanked on the shirt of Ezri Konsa from a corner and a penalty was awarded after VAR consultation. Palmer, renowned for his coolness from the spot for Chelsea, tucked away his first international goal with a crisp finish Vasilj could only get a flapping hand to.

The former Manchester City attacker was off moments after as Southgate rang the changes, bringing on the likes of Kane and James Maddison alongside debutants Adam Wharton and Jarrad Branthwaite.

The more familiar lineup started to provide more fluency and rhythm to England’s attacking play, with Kane forcing a flying save with a wobbling strike from distance.

England’s improvement in the second period resulted in a second goal, this time from Alexander-Arnold. Substitute Jack Grealish floated a perfect pass out to the 25-year-old, whose volley was placed well enough to squeeze into the far corner from an acute angle.

The win was capped late on by Kane. Konsa inadvertently blocked a goal-bound strike from Jarrod Bowen but the rebound fell straight to Kane, who powered it over the line despite some scrambling from Vasilj.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Alexander-Arnold was impressive / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

GK: Jordan Pickford – 5/10 – Showed some worrying lapses in concentration early on and had no shots on target to deal with.

RB: Ezri Konsa – 7/10 – Frequently won the ball back and was solid down the right, though he couldn’t offer too much in the final third.

CB: Lewis Dunk – 7/10 – Did well mopping things up at the back and misplaced few of his passes.

CB: Marc Guehi – 7/10 – Was similarly untested in central defence and came off after the hour mark.

LB: Kieran Trippier – 7/10 – England’s captain for the night showed his dexterity on the left, though it definitely hindered some of his opportunities going forward.

CM: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 9/10 – Displayed his awesome passing range throughout the night and got his third England goal with a brilliant volley at the back post.

CM: Conor Gallagher – 7/10 – The Chelsea midfielder’s tenacity in the middle of the park gave Bosnia and Herzegovina little chance of building a platform throughout the evening.

RW: Jarrod Bowen – 6/10 – Arguably something of a missed opportunity for the West Ham United winger, who might have got his first international goal late on had his effort not been inadvertently blocked by Konsa.

AM: Cole Palmer – 8/10 – England’s best moments in the first half arrived when Palmer linked up smartly with Eze. He then struck for his country for the first time from the penalty spot before being brought off almost immediately.

LW: Eberechi Eze – 8/10 – Carried on his wonderful end of season form, constantly providing excitement with his dribbling during what was a tough watch at times.

ST: Ollie Watkins – 6/10 – Battled well to get one good shot away but was largely crowded out by the opposition’s three central defenders.

Substitutes

Harry Kane (61′ for Watkins) – 7/10 – England’s fluency improved shortly after Kane’s introduction. Naturally got on the scoresheet with a poacher’s effort in the box.

James Maddison (61′ for Palmer) – 7/10 – Buzzed around the edge of the box and played some nice passes.

Adam Wharton (62′ for Trippier) – 6/10 – Looked at ease during a good opportunity for a first taste of international football.

Jarrad Branthwaite (62′ for Guehi) – 6/10 – Picked up a booking during his maiden England bow.

Jack Grealish (63′ for Eze) – 7/10 – Helped improve England’s tempo and delivered the assist for Alexander-Arnold’s strike.

Joe Gomez (73′ for Dunk) – 6/10 – Had little defensive work to do following his introduction.

Subs not used: Aaron Ramsdale (GK), Dean Henderson (GK), James Trafford (GK), Jarell Quansah, Curtis Jones, Declan Rice, Ivan Toney.

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