England 3-0 Ivory Coast: Sterling stars in easy win as Aurier sees red

By Sports Desk March 29, 2022

Raheem Sterling played a starring role with the captain's armband as England cruised to a 3-0 friendly win over Ivory Coast, who had Serge Aurier sent off in the first half.

Gareth Southgate made 10 changes from the team that beat Switzerland 2-1 on Saturday, though at no point did that look an issue for the Three Lions, whose record unbeaten run was extended to 22 matches – excluding penalty shoot-outs.

Sterling was at the centre of much that was good about England in the first half, teeing up Ollie Watkins for the opener and then providing a finish just before the interval having seen Aurier dismissed moments earlier.

An England penalty was then overturned early in the second half, and the Three Lions looked like settling for a two-goal win during a disjointed second 45 minutes until Tyrone Mings headed a last-gasp third.

England were dominant right from the start and almost went ahead in the 15th minute, but Jude Bellingham's close-range effort was nudged onto the post by Badra Ali Sangare.

The visitors' goalkeeper was helpless a quarter of an hour later, though, as Sterling beat Aurier and squared across the six-yard box for Watkins to tap in.

Ivory Coast's chances of a turnaround were further damaged when Aurier was shown a second yellow card for dissent in the 40th minute, and soon after it was 2-0 thanks to Sterling's close-range finish from Jack Grealish's cut-back.

The VAR spared Ivory Coast a penalty concession early in the second half after Fousseny Coulibaly was initially penalised for a clean tackle on Bellingham.

Just when the game appeared to be petering out, Mings saw his header from a corner crash into the ground and bounce up to find the top-right corner in stoppage time.
 

What does it mean? Fringe players get a chance to impress

In truth, this ended up being little more than a training session that just happened to be attended by fans and televised, especially after Aurier's dismissal.

Nick Pope in the England goal will not have had many (any?) easier matches in his entire career, but further forward there were certainly a few players who grasped their opportunity with both hands.

Bellingham was particularly good, while Watkins got himself on the scoresheet and Emile Smith Rowe looked tidy after coming on in the second half.

Sterling shimmers

This was an excellent hour or so from the Manchester City star. Pep Guardiola probably grimaced when the forward was on the end of a heavy early tackle, but from then on he was a real threat, having a hand in the first two goals – it was the first time he had scored and assisted in an England game since October 2019.

Aurier surprises no one

There was a degree of mystery around Aurier's second yellow card for a moment, though it soon emerged he was punished for dissent. It was needless, as was his tough tackle on Grealish for his first yellow. But if anyone was a prime candidate for a first-half red card, Aurier was always going to be the man.

What's next?

England begin their Nations League campaign away to Hungary on June 4, but before that they will turn their attentions to Friday's World Cup draw.

Related items

  • Olympiacos hero El Kaabi matches Messi feat in Europa Conference League success Olympiacos hero El Kaabi matches Messi feat in Europa Conference League success

    Ayoub El Kaabi will be the toast of Piraeus after his match-winning heroics secured Olympiakos' first-ever European trophy following their Europa Conference League success on Wednesday.

    The Olympiacos striker delivered the fatal blow against Fiorentina, bundling home with four minutes remaining of extra time to snatch a 1-0 victory at the AEK Arena.

    El Kaabi is the first player to score 11 goals in a single knockout stage campaign in major European competition since the introduction of group stages.

    Radamel Falcao, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema all only ever managed 10 such goals in one campaign of UEFA competitions, and El Kaabi moves next to greatness in another aspect, too.

    The Moroccan forward is the first non-European player to score 14 goals in major European competition in a single season, since Lionel Messi in 2011-12 (also 14).

    Olympiakos have their star striker to thank after becoming the first-ever Greek side to lift a trophy in major European competition, while Fiorentina will be wounded by another failure in this tournament.

    Having lost to West Ham in last season's Conference League final, Fiorentina have now lost five of their last six finals in Europe, their only success coming against Rangers in the 1961 Cup Winners' Cup.

    Defeat also ended La Viola's longest unbeaten run in Europe in their history, halting a 13-match undefeated streak in abrupt fashion.

  • Sinner thrashes home favourite Gasquet to make French Open third round Sinner thrashes home favourite Gasquet to make French Open third round

    Jannik Sinner cruised into the French Open third round after making light work of home favourite Richard Gasquet in a straight-sets victory on Wednesday.

    The world number two overcame Christopher Eubanks in his first Roland-Garros meeting and had similar ease against French veteran Gasquet on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

    Having triumphed at the Australian Open in January, Sinner will be dreaming of a second major title after his convincing 6-4 6-2 6-4 success in the French capital.

    Buoyed on with confidence from a straight-sets win against Eubanks on Monday, Sinner stole a decisive break at 3-3 in the first set to undo 37-year-old Gasquet.

    Gasquet, a 16-time ATP Tour champion, struggled to respond after that opening blow, holding his service just twice in a one-sided second set.

    Sinner continued to dictate play from deep on the court, pulling Gasquet apart at will to tee up a routine win in just two hours and 17 minutes.

    Data Debrief: Sinner riding major wave

    Fresh from his major-winning exploits in Australia, Sinner is a remarkable 9-0 in grand slam competition this year.

    The 22-year-old extended to a 12-1 record against players ranked outside the top 10 at Roland-Garros, while he now has 26 wins and just one loss against Frenchmen since August 2020.

  • Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina (aet): El Kaabi's extra-time winner snatches dramatic Europa Conference League glory Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina (aet): El Kaabi's extra-time winner snatches dramatic Europa Conference League glory

    Ayoub El Kaabi was the hero as Olympiacos won their first major European honour in history as they snatched a dramatic 1-0 extra-time victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.

    After nothing could separate the sides inside 90 minutes, talisman El Kaabi scored a 116th-minute winner at the AEK Arena as they became the first Greek side to win a major European competition.

    Once again, Fiorentina fell at the final hurdle of this competition, with La Viola also losing out to West Ham in the Prague showpiece last season.

    However, the success belonged to Olympiacos and head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, who secured continental glory in successive seasons following his Europa League triumph with Sevilla this time last year.

    Daniel Podence tested Pietro Terracciano early on before Fiorentina thought they had opened the scoring just nine minutes into the final.

    Cristiano Biraghi's cross crept into Konstantinos Tzolakis' bottom-right corner, but Nikola Milenkovic was ruled offside for his position in front of the Olympiacos goalkeeper.

    Despite their celebrations being cut short, Fiorentina continued with the greater attacking impetus throughout the first half.

    Yet La Viola's dominance paid little dividends as Giacomo Bonaventura – their scorer in last season’s final defeat to West Ham – wasted the best chance, shooting straight at Tzolakis from close range after 21 minutes.

    Opportunities remained elusive after the break but Fiorentina again went close in the 69th minute as Dodo found Christian Kouame, whose scuffed effort was pushed away by Tzolakis.

    Olympiacos almost struck 11 minutes later when Francisco Ortega's free-kick was met by Iborra, but the 36-year-old's header missed the inside Terracciano's right-hand post as the final headed for extra-time.

    Mendilibar had earlier introduced former Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, who almost came back to haunt his old club in the 96th minute, when cutting inside before fizzing a strike that Terracciano tipped away.

    A penalty shoot-out appeared likely when Tzolakis denied Jonathan Ikone, until El Kaabi ghosted in to nod home Santiago Hezze's cross with just four minutes remaining and send Olympiacos' fans into ecstasy after a lengthy VAR check for offside in Athens.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.