Harry Kane (left) celebrates after scoring against Nigeria
Gary Cahill and Harry Kane scored the goals as England
warmed up for the World Cup by beating Nigeria 2-1 in
their friendly at Wembley.
The recalled Cahill headed England ahead in the seventh
minute, before Kane added a second with a fierce, low
drive six minutes before the break, meaning the striker
has now scored eight goals in his last seven
appearances for his country.
Alex Iwobi pulled a goal back for Nigeria right at the
start of the second half, but it was not enough as
England – in front of a crowd of just over 70,000 –
extended their unbeaten run to nine matches.
England: Pickford (7), Trippier (7), Young (7),
Walker (6), Stones (6), Cahill (9), Lingard (7), Dier
(7), Kane (7), Sterling (7), Alli (7)
Subs: Rose (6), Delph (6), Loftus-Cheek (7),
Rashford (6), Welbeck (6)
Nigeria: Uzoho (6), Idowu (6), Troost-Ekong (6),
Balogun (6), Onazi (6), Mikel (7), Obi (6), Abdullahi
(6), Ighalo (7), Moses (7), Iwobi (8)
Subs: Ebuehi (6), Omeruo (6), Etebo (6), Ogu (6),
Musa (6), Iheanacho (6)
Man of the match: Gary Cahill
In a first half dominated by England – playing in their
now familiar 3-4-3 formation – it was the hosts side who
opened the scoring through an unlikely source at a sun-
drenched home of football.
Kieran Trippier swung in a corner from the right for
Cahill – making his first England appearance since
October – to rise highest and power a brilliant header
into the top right-hand corner of the net, despite the
presence of a Nigeria player on the line.
That was the experienced Chelsea defender’s first goal
for 13 months and it may have played him into Gareth
Southgate’s starting XI for England’s opening World Cup
fixture against Tunisia on June 18.
Gary Cahill (centre) scores England’s opening goal
With all eyes on Raheem Sterling after his eventful week,
the Manchester City forward missed the target from a
tight angle when through on goal just before the quarter-
hour mark, before firing over the bar from just inside the
box seven minutes before the break.
The pace down the flanks of Jesse Lingard and Sterling
was causing Nigeria’s back-line all kinds of problems in
the first period, with England doubling their lead after 39
Gary Cahill was handed a chance to impress in
defence in place of Harry Maguire, who was a
slight injury doubt, while Kieran Trippier and Ashley
Young were selected as wing backs. Raheem
Sterling was also given the nod to start in attack
despite having to apologise to his team-mates for
his late arrival to the squad’s training base earlier
in the week.
As for the visitors, Gernot Rohr’s side featured
three Premier League-based players in their starting
line-up, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Chelsea’s Victor
Moses and new Brighton signing Leon Balogun.
The visitors gifted the ball straight to Eric Dier in central
midfield, and he fed Kane, who in turn found Sterling on
the edge of the area. The forward then laid the ball off
for his captain, who beat Francis Uzoho with a fiercely-
struck low drive that the Nigeria goalkeeper should have
done better with.
Nigeria responded to that setback by making four
substitutions at half-time, with those changes paying
immediate dividends as the Super Eagles reduced the
deficit within two minutes of the restart.
Kane scores England’s second goal at Wembley
Iwobi’s clever pass sent Odion Ighalo through on goal
and, after the former Watford striker had hit the post
with a well-struck effort, the Arsenal midfielder was
there to smash home the rebound for what was
Nigeria’s first-ever goal against England.
It was also the first time England goalkeeper Jordan
Pickford had conceded since the World Cup qualifier
against Slovakia in September, but the hosts managed
to keep their opponents at bay thereafter.
Nigeria midfielder Alex Iwobi (centre) celebrates after
scoring against England
In fact, it was England who should have added more
goals, with Dier glancing a near-post header inches off
target just past the hour-mark before Southgate started
to ring the changes.
The man of the moment, Sterling, capped off an eventful
game by picking up a booking for simulation, but
Southgate will be pleased to have given his first-choice
XI – or as close as possible to his preferred starting line-
up – a useful run-out, while not picking up any injuries in
11 – 11 of @England ‘s last 15 goals have been
scored or assisted by @SpursOfficial players.
6:21 PM – Jun 2, 2018
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Gareth Southgate: “The first half was as good a half as
we’ve had. There was a lot of unselfish one and two-
touch play. Our play from the back had good
composure. It would be easy to say we were
complacent in the second half but that wasn’t the case.
England manager Gareth Southgate looks on at
“We didn’t come to terms with their change in formation
or work out their midfield quickly enough. We were a bit
slow to react at the back and then it was a really good
test for us. That five or six-minute spell we have to learn
from because in a tournament that’s enough to put you
Man of the Match – Gary Cahill
The central defender was a surprise selection in
England’s back three, but got the nod due to fitness
concerns over Leicester City’s Harry Maguire, who had
barely trained all week.
Gary Cahill celebrates after opening the scoring for
However, the 32-year-old took his chance after
producing a rock-solid defensive display, reminding
Gareth Southgate of his expertise at the back.
The centre-back – in his first Three Lions appearance
since October – also opened the scoring with an early
bullet header to end a 13-month wait for a goal and
may now start against Tunisia in England’s opening
World Cup clash later this month.
7 – Gary Cahill’s 7th minute header was the
earliest goal for England at Wembley since
Rooney’s 6th minute opener v Lithuania in March
5:32 PM – Jun 2, 2018
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