Euro warm-up: England, Belgium register wins

Images from the Euro 2020 warm-up matches played on Sunday.

Rashford penalty gives England win

A makeshift England side beat Romania 1-0 in their final Euro 2020 warm-up game on Sunday as Marcus Rashford converted a 68th-minute penalty after manager Gareth Southgate made nine changes to the team that beat Austria by the same score on Wednesday.

Rashford left Florin Nita rooted to his line with a perfectly taken spot kick after Tiberiu Capusa brought down Jack Grealish but the Romanian goalkeeper did well 10 minutes later when he saved a Jordan Henderson penalty.

Henderson returned to action for the first time since being sidelined with a groin injury in February and having come on as a halftime substitute, the Liverpool captain missed a 78th-minute spot kick.

Both sides created chances in a lively contest at the Riverside Stadium and England twice hit the woodwork in the first half before England keeper Sam Johnstone denied Deian Sorescu with a fine stop.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed against the crossbar in the 32nd minute after James Ward-Prowse swung in a free kick and Jadon Sancho rattled the woodwork six minutes later with a superb shot from inside the penalty area.

Having taken the lead, England survived another scare shortly afterwards as Johnstone produced a spectacular save to keep out a ferocious close-range volley by Andrei Ivan before Henderson’s penalty miss.

Defender Vlad Chiriches sent Calvert-Lewin tumbling with a clumsy aerial challenge but Henderson failed to take advantage as Nita dived the right way to palm away his low shot and then smothered the rebound.

England substitute Jude Bellingham went close at the other end with a header at the far post in the dying minutes as the home side kept pressing in search of a second goal.

England open their European Championship Group D campaign against Croatia at Wembley next Sunday before taking on Scotland on June 18 and the Czech Republic four days later all at the same venue.

The Scots also won their last friendly before the June 11-July 11 tournament with a Che Adams goal giving them a 1-0 win at 10-man Luxembourg.

Adams’s tame-looking shot squeezed underneath Luxembourg keeper Anthony Moris in the 28th minute before the home side’s centre back Vahid Selimovic was shown a straight red card in the 34th for a last-man foul on Lyndon Dykes.

Scotland open their campaign against the Czechs at Hampden Park on June 14 and they take on Croatia at the same venue on June 22 following their match with England.

Lukaku strike gives Belgium win over Croatia

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku underlined his status as one of the world’s top strikers with his 60th international goal to secure a 1-0 win over Croatia in their Euro 2020 warm-up on Sunday.

Lukaku struck from a goalmouth scramble in the 38th minute to win the match for the top-ranked Belgians, who will start the Euros in confident mood after a convincing performance.

They shrugged off a bright start from Croatia to enjoy a comfortable victory, which might have had a more commanding scoreline had they taken all of their chances, as they confirmed their status as one the Euro 2020 favourites.

The goal came when fellow European Championship contenders Croatia failed to clear a corner and Lukaku was first to swivel and hook the ball home after Jason Denayer laid it on for him.

Lukaku had crashed a powerful strike against the crossbar seven minutes earlier as he shrugged off three markers to turn and fire goalwards. Yannick Carrasco was first to the rebound but sent his header against the bar too.

Lukaku should have had a second goal three minutes from the end but Croatia goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic made a goal-line stop at point-blank range to keep out his powerful header.

Carrasco and Nacer Chadli blazed good chances wide while Croatia’s best opportunity fell to substitute Josip Brekalo in stoppage time but he was denied by keeper Thibaut Courtois.

“I did what I had to do for the team,” said Lukaku after the match.

“This result gives us a great feeling. Now it’s just a matter of getting a bit sharper and getting the other players 100% ready,” he added, with captain Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Axel Witsel all battling for fitness.

“Then a lot is possible.”

Hazard made his first appearance for Belgium since November 2019 as a substitute for the last eight minutes as he searches for fitness after an injury-plagued season. It increased his chances of starting Saturday’s Group B match against Russia in St Petersburg.

Yet there is still doubt over De Bruyne, who is only due to join up with the squad on Monday and suffered a double facial fracture in the Champions League final just over a week ago.

Witsel is only set to play in the knockout stages after Achilles surgery at the start of the year.

Croatia, runners-up at the World Cup three years ago, start their Group D campaign against England at Wembley next Sunday.

Dutch enjoy morale-boosting 3-0 win over Georgia

Netherlands beat Georgia 3-0 thanks to goals from Memphis Depay, Wout Weghorst and teenager Ryan Gravenberch on Sunday in a morale-boosting victory ahead of the European Championship.

Depay tucked away a 10th-minute penalty but Georgia finished the first half stronger as they had more shots on goal and pushed their hosts repeatedly onto the back foot.

The home team resumed command of the game after the break, spurred on by 7,500 spectators, with Weghorst scoring his first international goal as they doubled the lead in the 55th minute.

Gravenberch, who only turned 19 last month, reacted quickest to head home a rebound in the 76th for the third goal.

The victory will come as a relief for Netherlands coach Frank de Boer after a disappointing 2-2 draw with Scotland in their first warm-up game last week that saw the Dutch tactics criticised by media and pundits.

“Are we ready for the European Championship? Yes, I just asked the boys and they are looking forward to it,” De Boer told reporters.

Denzil Dumfries was brought down early to present Depay with the chance to open the scoring from the penalty spot. Depay was denied a second goal just five minutes later as keeper Giorgi Loria made a full-stretch, scrambling save on the goalline.

But after that Georgia threatened on several occasions in the first half with Saba Lobzhanidze having the best opportunity to get his side back in the game.

The Netherlands wrestled back control in the second half with Weghorst finishing at full sprint after being played in on goal by Depay.

After a strong season in the Bundesliga, Vfl Wolfsburg forward Weghorst made a case for inclusion in the starting attack when the Dutch open their Group C campaign against Ukraine in Amsterdam on Sunday.

The third goal came after Depay had another shot saved by Sania but the ball rebounded into the air and Gravenberch finished it off.

With six minutes left, Georgia substitute Jaba Jighauri struck the woodwork with a powerful shot as he almost beat the 38-year-old Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.

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