With the 2016 European Championship three short months from kicking off, international friendlies across the continent took center stage on Saturday, as heavy-hitters England, Germany, Russia, Croatia and Austria were all in action…
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Germany 2-3 England
England came back from two goals down to top the current World Cup holders Germany, and that part is undoubtedly important as a galvanizing moment for the English, but the story and lasting images of Saturday’s tune-up in Berlin are undoubtedly the stunning goals scored by England’s new dynamic duo of
Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, and what it could mean for the international future of current England captain Wayne Rooney.
After going 2-0 down after 57 minutes — Toni Kroos and Mario Gomez each bagged a goal either side of halftime — it was Kane, with his inside-the-box Cruyff turn and pinpoint finish inside the far post (below video), and Vardy, with his clever backheel flick to turn home a Nathaniel Clyne cross (below video), who provided the moments of magic that left everyone who watched, wondering, “What if England are … actually good again?”
With the goals currently flowing from a number of in-form players, Rooney’s place in this summer’s squad is currently … uh … in doubt.
Not satisfied with come back from 2-0 to 2-2, Eric Dier grabbed the 91st-minute winner for the Three Lions. Not even Manuel Neuer had any chance of saving Dier’s bullet header from Jordan Henderson‘s in-swinging corner kick for his first senior-team international goal. Dier was one of four Tottenham Hotspur players — Kane, Dele Alli and Danny Rose the others — to start and play the full 90 minutes on Saturday.
Russia 3-0 Lithuania
England’s fellow Group B dwellers Russia rolled right past Lithuania, thanks to goals scored by Fedor Smolov (41st minute), Aleksandr Golovin (61st) and Denis Glushakov (72nd). Russia will compete against England, Wales and Slovakia in the group stage this summer.
Hungary 1-1 Croatia
Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic put Croatia up a goal just before the half-hour mark, but Hungary equalized through Balazs Dzsudzsak on 79 minutes. Croatia will face off against Spain, Turkey and the Czech Republic in Group D, while Hungary landed no more comfortably in Group F, alongside Portugal, Iceland and Austria.
Elsewhere in pre-EURO int’l friendly action
Austria 2-1 Albania
Poland 5-0 Finland