Jude Bellingham denies Belgium at the death as England secure draw at Wembley

By Sports Desk March 26, 2024

Jude Bellingham struck at the death to salvage England a deserved draw against Belgium on a night of impressive auditions in the final match before Gareth Southgate’s Euro 2024 selection.

Three days on from the late loss to Brazil, the absentee-hit Euro 2020 runners-up faced another high-level test as the side third in FIFA’s world rankings hosted the team in fourth.

England were heading for another Wembley defeat after Youri Tielemans punished first-half errors either side of Ivan Toney’s penalty, only for Bellingham to secure a 2-2 draw in stoppage time.

Toney did well on his first start, as did fellow full debutants Ezri Konsa and, in particular, 18-year-old Kobbie Mainoo in the final friendly before Southgate names an expanded Euros squad on May 21.

Related items

  • Livingstone says England have grown into World Cup ahead of India clash Livingstone says England have grown into World Cup ahead of India clash

    Liam Livingstone is hopeful England are coming good at the perfect time ahead of their T20 World Cup semi-final against India, having grown into the tournament after a slow start.

    The defending champions almost succumbed to a humiliating group-stage exit, with only old rivals Australia keeping them in with a dramatic victory over Scotland.

    Having finished second in Group B, Jos Buttler's team did likewise in Group 2 at the Super-8 stage, a resounding victory over the United States sending them through at West Indies' expense. 

    England now have a chance to reach their fourth T20 World Cup final and their third in the last four editions, while a third triumph at the tournament would take them clear of the Windies for the outright record. 

    All-rounder Livingstone says England have a chance to prove tournaments are not about how you start, but how you finish. 

    "In tournament cricket, sometimes it is better to sneak up and nick it at the end," said Livingstone. "Hopefully that is the way we will go. 

    "A lot of lads have been contributing in the last few games which should stand us in good stead going forward. We've hopefully got two more massive games."

    Livingstone sustained a torso injury while batting against Namibia in the group stage but has shrugged that problem off to play all of England's matches.

    He has yet to truly hit top form, taking two wickets and scoring 13 and 33 in his two innings with the bat in the middle order, but he is confident a big finish is coming.

    "As a kid I always wanted to be involved, that's the reason I started bowling a few years back," he said.

    "So batting at seven and maybe bowling one over, that's where the hard bit comes as you want to be involved.

    "Thankfully the last two games I struck the ball well against South Africa and bowled pretty well [against the USA], so I feel I'm in a good place."

  • Positive vibes: Boyz striker Nicholson hoping to overcome bittersweet milestone with victory over Ecuador Positive vibes: Boyz striker Nicholson hoping to overcome bittersweet milestone with victory over Ecuador

    For Shamar Nicholson, Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz 1-0 loss to Mexico in their Copa America opener was a bittersweet occasion, as that encounter marked his 50th international appearance for the country.

    Though Nicholson would have loved to celebrate the significant milestone in victory, but it was not to be. As such, he was left ruing what could have been, as he reflected on his career journey which started at Trench Town High school, blossomed at Boys' Town Football Club, and he is now bearing fruit as one of Jamaica's top-rated strikers.

    Across those 50 games, Nicholson has so far tallied 19 goals and won three medals –silver and the 2017 Caribbean Cup and Concacaf Gold Cup, and an historic bronze at 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League.

    "Yeah, it was special moment," Nicholson declared in a recent interview with Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) media.

    "It's just a pity that we didn't get to win to make it more special, but it was a proud moment for me and my family, my friends, coaching staff, and everyone, who have supported me along the way during bad time and good time. So it was really a proud moment," he added.

    Shamar Nicholson (right) and rising sensation Keheim Dixon.

    Nicholson’s rise to becoming one of Jamaica's key players has been marked by determination and hard work. Though a man of few words, the 27-year-old's achievements on the international stage is a testament to his dedication and talent, as his true personality comes to light when the ball is at his feet.

    Since making his debut in 2017, the towering striker has become a mainstay in the senior Reggae Boyz team, especially giving his scoring prowess and physical presence on the field, which makes him a constant threat to opponents.

    In fact, it is for that reason why Nicholson has made the rounds at clubs in Slovenia, Belgium, Russia and now France. In Slovenia he scored 18 goals for Domzale, and later tallied 30 goals for Belgian outfit Charleroi. He later moved to Spartak Moscow, where he had eight goals and won the Russian Cup, before being loaned out to French Ligue 1 side Clermont, where has four goals to date.

    Each league and club offered a different challenge, but for Nicholson, the experiences were worthwhile contributions to his development.

    "Yes, I will say culture wise (France and Belgium are somewhat similar), but I think it was also a good experience, you know, because the level is high and really physical, and it also challenges you mentally. So I think it was a good experience and I learned a lot," Nicholson shared.

    Despite the defeat to Mexico in keen contest where Michail Antonio had a goal ruled out for offside and the Boyz generally squandered a few good half chances.

    While that result was not in their favour, Nicholson believes there were positives to take from the game, and, as such, he remains optimistic and focused on the challenges ahead, particularly the upcoming clash against Ecuador.

    Shamar Nicholson celebrates with Reggae Boyz teammates.

    He emphasized the importance of staying positive and focused, as the Heimir Hallgrimsson-coached Boyz hunt an historic first goal and, by extension, point at the prestigious Copa America tournament 

    The Reggae Boyz have shown in previous tournaments that they can bounce back from setbacks, and Nicholson is confident they will do so again. Hallgrimsson’s side is currently at the foot of Group B without a point, a statistic they could very well change with victory over Ecuador on Wednesday at Allegiant Stadium.

    They will then close out the group stage against current leaders Venezuela on Sunday.

    “The vibe is right, you know, everyone is positive despite the loss (against Mexico), and we all have a positive mindset. So, it's just to take things step by step. You know, we prepare in training, so it's just to go there and believe, and I think we're ready for that game,” Nicholson ended.

  • Marseille agree deal to appoint De Zerbi as new head coach Marseille agree deal to appoint De Zerbi as new head coach

    Marseille have announced they have agreed a deal in principle for Roberto De Zerbi to be their head coach.

    In a statement, Marseille said they were "working with all stakeholders to formalize the arrival of the Italian coach, as well as that of his staff, on the OM bench and prepare for his arrival in Marseille in the coming days."

    De Zerbi, whose shock departure from Brighton was announced the day before the end of the 2023-24 season, led the Seagulls to a sixth-place finish in the Premier League after taking over from Graham Potter in 2022, securing European football for the first time in their history.

    Brighton topped their Europa League group, beating Marseille in the process, but were knocked out by Roma in the round of 16 before slumping to an 11th-place finish in the league.

    The French side, meanwhile, went through three managers last season, with Jean-Louis Gasset overseeing the end of the campaign as Marseille finished eighth in Ligue 1, outside the European places.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.