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England 2-1 Australia

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England striker Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford made history by becoming the youngest player to score on his England debut as they beat Australia in a friendly at The Stadium Of Light.

Manchester United’s Rashford – at 18 years and 208 days – beat the previous record set by Tommy Lawton in 1938 when he volleyed in after only 138 seconds.

He was then able to press his claims for inclusion in England’s Euro 2016 squad when it is confirmed on Tuesday with an exciting display, especially with Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge not even able to make the substitutes’ bench because of a calf injury.

Wayne Rooney, on as a half-time substitute, drilled home his 52nd England goal from Raheem Sterling’s pass in the 55th minute before Eric Dier gave Australia hope with 15 minutes left by heading into his own net at the near post from Alex Wilkinson’s cross.

Reaction to England’s win over Australia

Rashford illuminates the Stadium of Light

From the moment he came out for England’s warm-up, Rashford looked perfectly at home on the international stage – and surely now manager Roy Hodgson will take him to Euro 2016.

Rashford was a threat for the entire 63 minutes he was on the pitch. There were moments when his inexperience showed, such as when his control let him down after being played in by Sterling in the first half – but this is a young man on a mission.

He demonstrated pace, control and a nerveless approach and even when he stumbled on another chance in the second half, he recovered his poise quickly to send a cross flashing into the six-yard box with his England colleagues just unable to get a touch.

Rashford departed to a deserved standing ovation. Now it seems certain he will be packing his bags and his passport for France.

Rooney still a shining light

England forward Wayne Rooney scores against Australia

Rooney’s beaming smile gave the seal of approval to the young pretender Rashford when he volleyed home – but England’s captain showed he is not ready to give way to the younger generation just yet with a vibrant second-half display.

The 30-year-old has never been under greater pressure for his England place with the emergence of Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, whose goals helped make them Premier League champions.

He looked fresh and fit in his 45 minutes on the pitch, rifling a fine finish high past Matthew Ryan and also looking to create chances for his team-mates. Rooney will start England’s Euro 2016 opener against Russia in Marseille on Saturday, 11 June.

England’s defence still a worry

Dier’s own goal was symptomatic of England’s back line. They still look less than convincing in defence, even against a side as average as this Australia.

Dier, a defensive midfielder, was brought on in a centre-back role and had only been on the pitch for a couple of minutes when he dived, unchallenged, at the near post and headed a low cross under Fraser Forster.

Manager Hodgson has time to work on his first-choice line-up before the opening game of Euro 2016 but he will be hoping Gary Cahill shakes off a hip injury because central defence is already one area of the team where England look vulnerable.

Australia got at England early on but never had the quality to pose a serious threat where others will at the sharp end of Euro 2016.

Bad night for Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge looks on as he missed England's game against Australia with a calf injury

Sturridge has suffered the misery of another injury setback, this time a calf problem that restricted him to a watching brief while Rashford claimed the headlines.

Liverpool’s striker is a rare talent, as proved by his wonderful goal – a masterpiece of technique with the outside of his left foot – in the Europa League final defeat by Sevilla in Basel.

The problem is, however, an obvious one. Sturridge’s fitness cannot be counted on and means Hodgson has only days to decide whether to take the gamble of putting him on the plane to France – especially as Rashford is providing him with an exciting new alternative.

What next?

Hodgson will trim his 26-man squad to 23 before the Tuesday, 31 May deadline and England will play their final warm-up game before Euro 2016 when they take on Portugal at Wembley on Thursday, 2 June.



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