Harry Maguire opens the scoring as England cruise past Republic of Ireland


Harry Maguire opened up the scoring for England as he led the Three Lions to a comfortable 3-0 victory against the Republic of Ireland.

England started the game brightly and were already carving out some half chances in the opening ten minutes. Tyrone Mings headed just over the bar after a corner from Mason Mount found its way to the back post but the Aston Villa defender couldn’t get his effort on target.

The warning signs continued for Ireland as a last-second block by Darren Randolph denied Bukayo Saka from close range after a quarter of an hour.

Just a few minutes later, Maguire rose the highest at the back post to head home a clipped in cross by Harry Winks and the Three Lions were deservedly went ahead. The captain had only previously scored once for his country in his 28 appearances, but this one will have probably meant more to him, given the tough couple of months that the defender has had.

Ireland were getting some joy down the flanks in the first twenty minutes, but each time they got into dangerous areas, they couldn’t pick out that killer pass to punish England.

The game was starting to open up and it was England who were really starting to turn the screw as they went in search for a second goal.

Jack Grealish was his usual active self for England and was the focal point to the majority of England’s attacks so far.

It was Grealish who created the next chance for England as he slid a ball in for Reece James who in turn cut a cross-back for Dominic Calvert-Lewin. Shane Duffy blocked the shot from the Everton striker and cleared the danger away for a corner.

The resulting corner forced Randolph in goal to tip over the bar from yet another Harry Maguire header, who was causing havoc for England from set-pieces.

England doubled their lead just past the half-hour mark and this time it was Jadon Sancho who got himself on the scoresheet. The winger received the ball from Grealish and his low shot from inside the box found its way through the crowd and into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.

The score stayed 2-0 as the first half drew to a close. England completely dominating the game with 11 shots to Irelands one. It was easy to see how Ireland have failed to net in their last four outings and they would need to do a lot more to change that statistic in the second half.

Nick Pope gave way between the sticks at half time for England and was replaced by debutant Dean Henderson whereas Ireland, who were forced into an early substitution in the first half due to an injury, remained the same after the break.

England came out for the second half exactly where they left in the first. Grealish was undoubtedly starting to enjoy this game and it was himself who came close. He took the ball past a helpless Cyrus Christie but couldn’t find the target after trying to find the corner of the goal with his left-footed effort.

Ireland were showing no signs of getting back into this one and if it wasn’t for Matt Doherty, they could have found themselves down another goal.

The Irishman managed to just get a nick on the ball as Saka crossed to try to find Calvert-Lewin at the back post. The touch by Doherty just changed the flight of the ball enough and Calvert-Lewin couldn’t quite change the direction of his header as he put it wide of the mark.

However, just a few minutes later, Ireland gifted England the chance to increase their lead as Christie brought down Saka in the box for what was a blatant and obvious penalty.

The referee agreed and pointed to the spot. Calvert-Lewin made no mistake from the spot and fiercely blasted it past a helpless Randolph to triple the lead.

The third goal looked like it signified the end of the game for both sides as they both went ahead and made triple substitutions within a few minutes of each other. Ireland brought on Robbie Brady, James McClean & Shane Long whereas England introduced Phil Foden, Tammy Abraham & Ainsley Maitland-Niles.

England were starting to control possession and were making the game look easy until Henderson was called into action after 73 minutes.

Alan Browne found himself on the right-hand side of the England box from a through ball, but he couldn’t capitalise on the space he had been given and his tame low effort was blocked by the upright foot of Henderson in goal.

With the game more or less done, Gareth Southgate brought on the youngster Jude Bellingham who at just 17 years of age became the third-youngest player to ever feature for England at the national level.

The game started to dwindle out and the last 15 minutes or so consisted of England probing the Ireland defence, but being happy to just keep the ball and let the game run its course. Ireland did manage to record another shot on goal from around 25/30 yards out, but that was comfortably saved by Henderson down to this left.

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