England 1-0 Austria-Euro 2020 warm-up friendly: Bukayo Saka nets winner

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It’s hard to know what else will have upset Gareth Southgate in the closing moments of this hitherto quiet game on Teesside.

Strange as it may sound, it may not have been the sight of Trent Alexander-Arnold stumbling around the perimeter of the field after stopping on the other side.

It would be a real shame for the Liverpool full-back if he were to be crippled now, but England, as we know, are well-supplied for right-backs.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is helped off the field after an injury late in the game

Trent Alexander-Arnold is helped off the field after an injury late in the game

The fullback lifts his shirt over his head after sustaining his leg injury during the match

The fullback lifts his shirt over his head after sustaining his leg injury during the match

The fullback lifts his shirt over his head after sustaining his leg injury during the match

Conor Coady takes care of Alexander-Arnold who seemed concerned about his left thigh

Conor Coady takes care of Alexander-Arnold who seemed concerned about his left thigh

Conor Coady takes care of Alexander-Arnold who seemed concerned about his left thigh

England boss Gareth Southgate comforts the defender as he stumbles through the tunnel

England boss Gareth Southgate comforts the defender as he stumbles through the tunnel

England boss Gareth Southgate comforts the defender as he stumbles through the tunnel

Even more worrying for the England manager is that he heard Jack Grealish calling for ice on his fragile right shin shortly after he was replaced. It already feels like Grealish will play a prominent role in the Euros this summer if he can only stay fit.

But maybe it was just about the last act of the night that worries Southgate more than anything else.

Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford’s extraordinary decision to recklessly and dangerously jump over his own defender Ben Godfrey to try to knock out an innocent ball almost led to a goal.

Ben White had to clear the ensuing follow-up shot from the line and that was all that stood in the way of a win from becoming a draw Austria really wouldn’t have deserved.

The Arsenal man shot home from a tight angle after Jack Grealish was blocked

The Arsenal man shot home from a tight angle after Jack Grealish was blocked

Bukayo Saka had previously scored the winning goal for England in a 1-0 win over Austria

Bukayo Saka scored the winning goal on Wednesday when England defeated Austria in a friendly match

Bukayo Saka scored the winning goal on Wednesday when England defeated Austria in a friendly match

The Arsenal star celebrates scoring his first international goal at Riverside Stadium

MATCH FACTS

England (4-3-3): Pickford, Alexander-Arnold, Coady, Mings (Godfrey 62), Trippier, Grealish (White 71), Rice (Ward-Prowse 61), Bellingham, Lingard (Watkins 61), Kane (Calvert-Lewin 61), Saka.

Subs not used: Johnstone, Ramsdale, Phillips, Jordan Henderson

Target: From 56

Booked: Calvert-Lewin, Alexander-Arnold

Austria (4-4-2): Bachmann, Dragovic, Hinteregger, Friedl, Lainer (Trimmel 81), Baumgartner (Schaub 62), Laimer (Grillitsch 62), Xaver Schlager (Baumgartlinger 81), Alaba (Schopf 72), Sabitzer, Kalajdzic (Gregoritsch 71).

Subs not used: Pervan, Alexander Schlager, Ilsanker, Lienhart, Posch, Ulmer.

Referee: Laurens Visser (Belgium)

Pickford smiled as he left the field at the end and that’s fair enough. There is no point in dwelling on these things. He had previously produced a very good save to deny Marcel Sabitzer, hitting the crossbar with his 20-yard shot.

But these are the moments that can cost you in a big tournament. Pickford has worked hard on his concentration and focus this season. Southgate referred to it last week. It is hoped that this was the only blunder the Everton goalkeeper had to get out of his system before the serious work begins at the end of next week.

As for Alexander-Arnold, he can only wait. He’d had a productive night, but just as all the fuss about his inclusion in the squad had subsided, he stuck his foot through a late clearance and clearly felt something in his thigh. Muscle injuries are unpredictable. Some recover faster than others, but his chances of starting the tournament’s opening match against Croatia – already small – now seem to have diminished further.

Grealish should have a better prognosis. He has been dealing with a shin injury for some time and there is a good chance he will alleviate it through this tournament. If he can do that while playing like this, then he will be very valuable indeed.

Jack Grealish ended the game as a precaution with an ice pack on his shin after a strong display

Jack Grealish ended the game as a precaution with an ice pack on his shin after a strong display

Jack Grealish ended the game as a precaution with an ice pack on his shin after a strong display

The midfielder helped score England's goal in a match in which he was constantly caught

The midfielder helped score England's goal in a match in which he was constantly caught

The midfielder helped score England’s goal in a match in which he was constantly caught

This was an unspectacular night for England, but that is often the case with pre-tournament friendlies. Nobody expects fireworks at this stage. It was a 6/10 performance, but Grealish and Bukayo Saka were two of the standout performers.

Both were targeted by an Austrian team unafraid to play physical, but neither let that deter them and combined to produce a winning goal in the 56th minute.

Jude Bellingham – along with Declan Rice at the base of midfield – wrestled his way into possession and when he fed Grealish he was able to move forward before resupplying Harry Kane on the left.

Kane’s ball to the top of the penalty area was then nicely placed in Grealish’s path by Jesse Lingard, only for Austrian Marcel Sabitzer to tackle. When the ball rolled to Saka on the left, he couldn’t miss and didn’t. It was his first international goal.

England came close to scoring early in the game with Alexander-Arnold .'s rising drive

England came close to scoring early in the game with Alexander-Arnold .'s rising drive

England came close to scoring early in the game with Alexander-Arnold .’s rising drive

Harry Kane captained England as the Three Lions prepared for the European Championship

Harry Kane captained England as the Three Lions prepared for the European Championship

Harry Kane captained England as the Three Lions prepared for the European Championship

Kane had a chance to score in the first half thwarted by Austrian Daniel Bachmann

Kane had a chance to score in the first half thwarted by Austrian Daniel Bachmann

Kane had a chance to score in the first half thwarted by Austrian Daniel Bachmann

England had started the evening playing that kind of football. They moved the ball well and used the width of the field. Kane gave Alexander-Arnold a beautiful long pass in the fourth minute and his shot was missed. Bellingham then headed into the keeper’s arms from the resulting corner before a Lingard cross was quickly cleared to Saka, who flew over.

It was all bright and promising and expansive, but it didn’t last long. Indeed, towards halftime, the focus was on footage showing Tyrone Ming’s body checking an opponent on the edge of his own penalty area. The officials did not see the incident and there was no VAR in use here. But there is another lesson to be learned. If Mings doesn’t do that later in the summer, his tournament will most likely come to an end.

Austria, which ranks 23rd in the world, was keen to break up the game whenever possible, but they grew in the game in the second half.

Pickford’s save from Sabitzer was a sharp one and it came moments after Godfrey – one of four players no longer in Southgate’s tournament roster to be used here – almost marked his own debut by passing the ball into his own goal.

Austria rallied late in the game and Jordan Pickford saved an attempt from Marcel Sabitzer

Austria rallied late in the game and Jordan Pickford saved an attempt from Marcel Sabitzer

Austria rallied late in the game and Jordan Pickford saved an attempt from Marcel Sabitzer

In stoppage time, debutant and substitute Ben White cleared the line to seal the victory

In stoppage time, debutant and substitute Ben White cleared the line to seal the victory

In stoppage time, debutant and substitute Ben White cleared the line to seal the victory

Later on, Austria enjoyed some sustained possession. Substitute Michael Gregoritsch headed a very good chance wide when he was not cleared and then Pickford’s moment of rash judgment came.

So England may have turned victory into something less palatable at death and there should be a lesson in that. The concentration levels in the last five minutes may not have been what they should be.

Nevertheless, Southgate will have seen some things to encourage him. Bellingham was another young player on his first start who argued for a place in the team for the game in Croatia.

Southgate has options this summer and will most likely need them.

Southgate cheer on supporters at Riverside Stadium after friendly win

Southgate cheer on supporters at Riverside Stadium after friendly win

Southgate cheer on supporters at Riverside Stadium after friendly win

White cheers on fans as Pickford shares a discussion with Everton team-mate Ben Godfrey

White cheers on fans as Pickford shares a discussion with Everton team-mate Ben Godfrey

White cheers on fans as Pickford shares a discussion with Everton team-mate Ben Godfrey

REVIVE ALL THE ACTION AS IT HAPPENED…

England begin their preparation for Euro 2020 as they face Austria in their first pre-tournament warm-up match at Riverside Stadium.

Gareth Southgate has appointed an experimental team for the clash against their fellow qualifiers, with the match starting at 8pm BST.

Follow Sportsmail’s DAN RIPLEY for live Euro 2020 warm-up coverage of England vs Austria, including scoreline, lineups and build-up.

Elsewhere, Scotland will also play against the Netherlands, while Wales will take on World Cup champions France. We will keep you informed of both matches.

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