A flawless dunk that makes a big impression
Is Harry Maguire’s time as a regular under Gareth Southgate over? It should be. As Southgate pointed out, he has been a giant at times for his country, but his time looks like first choice.
Not because of the unfortunate but clumsy own goal that almost changed the face of what had been an impressive night for England but because of the man he played alongside in the second half. It was Louis Dunk who looked like an international defender – in only his second appearance.
His development at Brighton, first under Graham Potter and then Roberto De Zerbi, was remarkable. He was always viewed as a bruising centre-back, who was great at defending his penalty area and not much else. But look at him now, playing on the big stage, and he looks like he’s been there for 10 years.
Comfortable on the ball and so advanced in his passing that no player in the Premier League made more successful passes than him last season, he has taken his form at Brighton to the international stage.
His passing was brave and clear under pressure, but it was his solid defending that made him stand out, with the 31-year-old making two vitally important headed clearances in the first half before denying Aaron Hickey with a perfectly timed and courageous save. 65 minutes.
It gave Southgate a massive headache. He simply cannot be dismissed after a flawless display in a fiercely competitive environment. This was not Gibraltar at home. Opportunity seized. Donk deserves to keep the shirt.
Bellingham is so good – even Scotland loves it!
There was polite applause around Hampden Park for Jodi Bellingham as he walked off the field.
applause. For the England player. From the local Scotland crowd. That’s how good it was.
With a goal and a brilliant assist, Bellingham showed they were in a class of their own. He was the best player on the field all night.
Thanks to his incisive passes, his blistering pace, his superiority over Scottish defenders and his precise through balls calmed Harry Kane.
A reminder of what is to come for Scotland
Steve Clarke leads his group in the European Championship with five wins in five matches and faces England, which tied with Ukraine on Saturday. Steve Clarke spoke before the match about his desire to know the extent to which his team has narrowed the gap with its competitors.
But they failed to impress against the waiting Tartan army, as England showed them the kind of test they will surely face in Germany next summer.
Their place at Euro 2024 is close to being secured with recent wins over Norway and Spain giving the Scots belief they can make an impression on the big stage.
Scotland are on the rise, no one can deny that, but an inspired display from Jude Bellingham has England retaining the bragging rights for now.
Foden offers support to Southgate
There was a sarcastic smile from Gareth Southgate when he was asked about Phil Foden’s performance after the match. “I’m as happy for him as anything else,” he said. But after all the debate over his best position, there has been vindication for the coach as well.
Southgate, after his comments questioning Foden’s suitability to play as a central midfielder in the build-up to the game, fielded the 23-year-old where he saw him as most effective – on the right-hand side. From there he gave one of his best performances in England.
As always, he had license to drift into central areas, just as he did with his goal, when clever footwork allowed him to turn Kyle Walker’s cross into the net. But he also caused damage on the wings, most notably with the vicious cross that led to the second goal.
Southgate explained that his preference for being used on the flanks is partly due to the defensive demands of the No.10 position, so it was also notable to hear him praised for his work in that regard. “He did a really good job for us without the ball,” he said.
Maybe there is a future for Foden centrally, after all. But right now, there doesn’t seem to be enough reason to move it. Not when he can perform like this from the right – and not when Bellingham is already rampaging England through the middle to such devastating effect.