Cole Palmer keeps his cool ahead of England’s breakthrough win over Bosnia

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Gareth Southgate decided to make his move. The hour had passed and although his experimental England team were closing in, he wanted to introduce the big gun, his captain Harry Kane, from the bench – plus four others, including James Maddison and Jack Grealish. There would also be the excitement of debuts for Jarrad Branthwaite and Adam Wharton.

Kane had taken off his tracksuit, but there would be one last action as VAR had spotted something wrong in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s penalty area as they defended a corner. It soon turned out that defender Benjamin Tahirovic had Ezri Konsa’s shirt in his hands. It was a clear penalty and Kane had to lick his lips at the prospect of scoring his 63rd goal for England.

Related: ‘It’s going to be difficult’: Southgate concerned about cutting seven-player squad

Instead, he was held back and the responsibility fell to a player at the opposite end of the international experience spectrum: Cole Palmer, on the occasion of his full debut. Palmer is famously cold from the spot and he was never going to pass up this goal. His first goal for England was a special moment.

Southgate’s team had flattered to deceive in the first half, save for a few flashes from another full debutant, Eberechi Eze, and a few more from Palmer. The punishment calmed them down and freed them ahead of the big kick-off of Euro 2024. After another friendly against Iceland at Wembley on Friday, all systems will be on for the tournament opener against Serbia on Sunday.

There would be more tonics. Trent Alexander-Arnold had been moved from the right midfield role in Southgate’s 4-2-3-1 to right-back after the massive substitutions, but how did he influence the game from then on. A long diagonal to Grealish was breathtaking and almost allowed Maddison to score, but not as much as the volley for 2-0. Alexander-Arnold shot the ball low and from a tight angle into the far corner. There was a wonderful nonchalance to it. Wharton, who played with a maturity beyond his 20 years, had gone to Grealish and he got the assist with a floating cross.

Conor Gallagher – singled out for Southgate’s post-match praise – came close to making it 3-0, denied by goalkeeper Nikola Vasilj after a strong run, before Kane inevitably glossed over the score. The goal featured clever tackling from Grealish, Maddison and Jarrod Bowen, and when Konsa couldn’t finish from close range, Kane could.

There has been much concern about Southgate’s defensive problems, with Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw suffering injuries; John Stones has had an uneven club season. There is a little less doubt about the attacking riches and this was a game to show them off. It wasn’t perfect. But when England broke away, there was much to enjoy.

It was easy to feel that it was a bad sign for Grealish to be among the substitutes after he reported for duty early last week after the FA Cup final, in which he did not feature for Manchester City. He would drastically change the story and play with a point to prove, although he was far from alone. Southgate had started with Bowen, Palmer and Eze, lining up from right to left behind the striker, Ollie Watkins, and chance had knocked loudly for them all.

Euro 2024 hosts Germany missed dozens of chances and dominated much of Monday’s match against Ukraine, but could not find a winner in their penultimate warm-up match before the tournament ended 0-0.

Germany, without players from Real Madrid and Dortmund in the lineup after Saturday’s Champions League final, started at a fast pace and with high pressure.
Ilkay Gündogan should have given them the lead in the 16th minute, but failed to connect properly with Pascal Gross’ cross.

Julian Nagelsmann’s team came close again early in the second half, but Kai Havertz [pictured] headed wide in the 53rd minute. Substitute Maximilian Beier came even closer with his first touch, hitting the crossbar from a tight angle and then forcing a save from goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin. Reuters

Eze looked confident on the ball, those nice feints in the foreground. He will beat you from a standing start. Premier League fans know that and the small contingent of Bosnia and Herzegovina fans, in the gods of St James’ Park, quickly realized it. Palmer still had a few moments before the break and set up Watkins for the first chance. Watkins reportedly went to the ground when Nikola Katic wrestled him. Instead, he shot directly at Vasilj.

The atmosphere was subdued in the first half, except when Kieran Trippier, Newcastle hero and initial England captain, got on the ball. Or when Jordan Pickford did the same. The Sunderland boy heard cheers from the locals, although English diehards who had traveled from further afield chanted his name.

England gave the crowd little reason for enthusiasm before the break. They didn’t move the ball with enough spirit and against big, physical opponents, lined up in a rigid 5-4-1, it was all a bit clogged. Bowen wanted to get in at the back right, but Eze had the tendency to drift inside. Trippier would never get out from left back.

Related: Southgate continued to sweat over Shaw and England’s limited options at left-back

Eze stormed clear of three challengers in the 27th minute – a breathtaking and isolated cut – with the ball spinning for Konsa, who won a corner. From this, Konsa got another break and stabbed low in front of goal. Vasilj saved smartly. Bowen shot low at the goalkeeper after 45 minutes.

The crowd tried to wake up England after the restart. Noise levels went up significantly and consistently. They implored the team to bring more against the country ranked 74th on the FIFA list. It worked. Palmer flickered as he saw a shot go wide after a trademark shoulder dip, almost creating a yard for himself on another occasion after a low Bowen cutback.

The breakthrough was coming. When Eze pushed the ball wide after a corner, Bowen hit a low shot and saw it deflect for a corner. Kane and the string of replacements were gutted. England would strike before they could continue.

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