Liam Livingstone’s counter-attacking 95 not out from 78 balls helped England battle back to beat New Zealand and level their ODI series at the Ageas Bowl.

England were reeling on eight for three after Trent Boult expertly exploited bowler-friendly conditions early on, while the hosts lurched to 55 for five before being bailed out by Livingstone and Sam Curran.

The pair put on 112 for the seventh wicket in 77 balls, the cornerstone of England’s 226 for seven in a 34-over contest, enough to secure a 79-run win as Reece Topley and David Willey took three wickets each.

After being blown away in Cardiff on Friday, this was an impressive response from England, especially after losing Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Ben Stokes within the space of eight deliveries from Boult after they were asked to bat first in overcast conditions.

Livingstone, who registered his first fifty of the summer in the Welsh capital, was fluent all around the ground at Southampton while Sam Curran, with 42 off 35 balls, proved a capable foil.

Despite being without Adil Rashid because of mild calf tightness – with three and a half weeks until the start of their World Cup campaign in India, England insisted his absence was precautionary – Jos Buttler’s side showed more of a cutting edge with the ball than they had done in the series opener.

After rain led to a three-hour delay and a shortened contest, Boult wreaked havoc in his first ODI in a year in an opening spell of 3-1-3-3, first squaring up Bairstow, whose leading edge on another day might have landed safely but on this occasion was superbly plucked one-handed out the air by Mitchell Santner.

Root was beaten by a fuller inswinging delivery two balls later and given lbw, wisely declining a review as the Yorkshireman trudged off for his fourth duck in his last 10 ODIs, while Boult followed up a double wicket maiden by snaring an advancing Stokes, who clothed the left-armer to mid-off.

Buttler briefly rallied, offsetting Boult’s rhythm with three fours of varying quality down the ground in an over yielding 15, but England’s early luck was encapsulated by their captain dragging a Santner long hop on to his leg stump for 30 off 25 balls. Santner clenched his teeth at his fortune.

England were in a tailspin after 12.1 overs as Livingstone joined Moeen Ali, who drove lustily in a 48-run rebuilding job before expertly slog sweeping Rachin Ravindra for the first six.

Moeen departed for 33, the ball after taking England to 100, slashing ungainly at Tim Southee as Glenn Phillips took a fine grab.

Livingstone enjoyed facing up to Southee, with six of his nine fours coming off the seamer, including three in an over – two through power and one via careful placement.

Curran proved a more than handy ally, heaving spin duo Ravindra and Santner for sixes, while Livingstone, who got the benefit of the doubt after missing a big hit at Phillips as a review showed the ball would only have trimmed leg stump, rocked back and pulled mightily into the stands off Matt Henry.

Livingstone was unable to convert a fine innings into three figures, with Curran departing in the final over after lapping to short third to end their stand.

Willey struck with the second ball of New Zealand’s reply, snaking through the defences of Finn Allen and knocking back middle stump while Devon Conway, an unbeaten centurion in Cardiff, made a scratchy 14 before driving loosely and edging behind to give Gus Atkinson his maiden ODI wicket.

Mitchell overturned being given out on nought but Will Young was stopped on his tracks on 33 by Willey’s direct hit. Topley then followed up a parsimonious opening five-over spell by ending a 56-run union between Mitchell and New Zealand captain Tom Latham, who hung his bat out uncertainly and edged behind to Buttler.

Having claimed his first wicket in five ODIs, Topley swung the game in England’s favour in his next over by taking a return catch off Phillips before Ravindra wafted to slip two balls later. Topley finished with impressive figures of three for 27 in seven overs.

Mitchell, as he had done at Sophia Gardens in a brutal unbeaten hundred, bristled with intent and after going to 50 at just better than a run-a-ball, he launched Moeen back over his head for six.

However, he perished for 57 off 52 deliveries after clubbing a full toss to mid-off from the very next ball.

New Zealand’s hopes vanished with his departure and Willey claimed the last two wickets in quick succession as the tourists were all out for 147 in 26.5 overs.

Liam Livingstone’s 95 not out from 78 balls bailed England out against New Zealand after Trent Boult marked his first ODI in a year by inducing a top-order collapse at the Ageas Bowl.

Boult exploited helpful bowling conditions by snaring Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Ben Stokes to leave England, seeking to level the series after a heavy defeat in Cardiff, reeling on eight for three.

England then lurched to 55 for five but Livingstone’s majestic counter-attack, clubbing nine fours and one six, helped the hosts to 226 for seven in a contest reduced to 34 overs per side because of rain.

The big-hitting all-rounder, whose ODI best was the first time he batted 50 or more balls in an England innings, shared a stand of 112 in 77 balls with Sam Curran – who returned to the XI alongside Bairstow and Moeen Ali – in this second of four World Cup warm-ups.

Jason Roy’s back spasm meant he once again missed out while Adil Rashid, who struggled with cramp at Sophia Gardens, missed out although England insist they are merely taking a precaution over the pair with the World Cup in India just three and a half weeks away.

After England were asked to bat first, Boult wreaked havoc in his second over, squaring up Bairstow, whose squirted leading edge might have landed safely on another day but a leaping Mitch Santner took a superb one-handed catch at cover.

Root was lbw second ball, eschewing a review as replays showed a delivery swinging back in would have clattered leg stump, with the Yorkshireman out for his fourth duck in his last 10 ODI knocks.

After a double wicket maiden, Boult had his third in the space of eight balls after an advancing Stokes backed away and clothed to mid-off while Harry Brook spooned Matt Henry to a backpedalling mid-on, with England’s top four mustering just nine runs between them in 32 deliveries.

Jos Buttler sought to upset Boult’s rhythm and though he mistimed a couple of drives, the tactic worked as a more convincing stroke brought up a third four in an over which yielded 15 runs.

Buttler’s eyes lit up at a rare Santner long hop but was on the shot too early and, perhaps undone by the ball sticking in the surface, dragged on to his leg stump, having made 30 of England’s 55 for five.

Moeen Ali drove Henry then Tim Southee lustily through the covers as he rebuilt alongside Livingstone, who settled into his stride by rocking back and cutting Southee away for four.

Livingstone was strong all around the wicket while Moeen slog swept Rachin Ravindra for six before clipping Southee wide of Tom Latham for four to bring up England’s 100. But from the next ball, Moeen was cramped for room and aimed an ungainly slash for Glenn Phillips to take a fine low catch.

Livingstone flayed three fours in a Southee over as he brought up a second successive fifty in 47 balls while he was ably supported by Curran, who launched Santner over cow corner for six.

Livingstone took his four count against Southee to six with back-to-back boundaries – an unconvincing mow before a more authoritative drive – before hammering Henry into the stands for his lone six.

Curran departed for 42 off 35 balls in the last over while Willey thumped his first ball for six but Livingstone, despite facing the last two balls, was left stranded five adrift of a maiden ODI ton.

England flanker Tom Curry will learn the length of his suspension for his red card in Saturday’s World Cup win over Argentina on Tuesday.

Curry was sent off in the third minute after a dangerous challenge on Juan Cruz Mallia that resulted in his yellow card being upgraded to red by the bunker review system.

England overcame their adversity to produce an impressive 27-10 victory, with George Ford kicking all 27 points, and next face Japan in Nice on Sunday, but will be without Curry, who will attend a disciplinary hearing in Paris on Tuesday evening.

A statement from World Rugby said: “England’s Tom Curry will appear before an independent Judicial Committee in Paris having received a red card, following a review by the Foul Play Review Officer, in England’s Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool D match against Argentina in Marseille on Saturday, 9 September for an offence contrary to Law 9.13 (dangerous tackle).

“At the player’s request, the hearing will take place on Tuesday evening, 12 September.

“The independent Judicial Committee that will hear the matter will be chaired by Adam Casselden SC (Australia), joined by former players John Langford (Australia) and Jamie Corsi (Wales).”

World Cup organisers have apologised to fans caught up in the chaotic scenes outside the Stade Velodrome before England’s match against Argentina on Saturday night.

Thousands of ticket holders missed the start of the Pool D opener because of the limited number of entry points and turnstiles, insufficient staffing levels and extensive security checks.

The weight of numbers led to crushes outside the ground and while France 2023 announced there were no incidents and all 63,118 seats were eventually taken, many supporters were concerned for their safety amid the potential for the situation to escalate.

“Fans are the heartbeat of the tournament and we would like to apologise to fans impacted by yesterday’s access challenges,” a statement read.

“We are working hard to enhance the experience for all visiting Marseille for Rugby World Cup 2023.”

Organisers have stated there will now be more service volunteers in place to assist with entry as well as increased announcements on public transport, including in English.

Other measures are also being taken to sure there is not a repeat of the scenes that took place before England beat Argentina 27-10 in the opening match of Pool D, which was staged in a hot and humid Marseille.

Although the crowds were well behaved and the atmosphere respectful, many supporters feared the consequences if the crushes intensified.

“When we got out of the station at the stadium there was an overwhelming number of people as there are just two entry points,” said England supporter Tim Chamberlain, who was attending his fifth World Cup.

“It felt like there were just not enough turnstiles and not enough people working. We stood in the melee for 45 minutes and it was really hot.

“You could see when we got in that it was potentially dangerous and there were occasional crowd surges, which were worrying, but people were generally pretty respectful.”

The Stade Velodrome was due to host Scotland’s Pool B tournament opener against reigning world champions South Africa on Sunday with the match scheduled to kick off at 1645BST.

Kyle Walker is relishing England’s so-called friendly against Scotland after the long-serving right-back scored a goal he will remember for the rest of his life.

The 33-year-old made his senior debut in a friendly against Spain in November 2011 and has gone on to feature in four major tournament squads for his country.

But for all of Walker’s work it was not until Saturday evening in Poland that the Manchester City right-back was able to celebrate scoring an international goal on his 77th appearance.

The full-back raced behind and met a fantastic Harry Kane pass with a similarly impressive touch, before coolly cancelling out Ukraine captain Oleksandr Zinchenko’s opener in Wroclaw.

“Obviously to have 76 caps and not score a goal, it was playing on my mind a little bit,” Walker said after the 1-1 draw in Euro 2024 qualification.

“Just a lot of people were saying ‘you’ve played all these times’ and Harry Kane has been giving me a bit of banter, saying he’ll give me a penalty before I finish.

“But, listen, to get the goal, to help the team at the other end of the field was good.

“You know H likes to play them balls in behind and I just made the run.

“We do that at City where once the ball goes back, you make the in behind run.

“Harry’s made a great ball and picked me out. I think the touch has set it up because I’d probably have been looking to square it someone (otherwise).

“The touch felt good and it was a goal that I’ll remember definitely for the rest of my life.”

England were below par in Poland but it remains a case of when rather than if they wrap up qualification for next summer’s Euros.

Preparations for Germany continue with a first friendly game in 18 months on Tuesday evening, albeit the trip to old foes Scotland at Hampden Park is sure to have some bite to it.

Asked if there can ever be a friendly against Scotland, Walker told Sky Sports: “No, definitely not.

“I love playing in them games, especially just with everything behind it, with what they bring, their crowd and everything like that.

“Hopefully we can go there and have a good performance.

“They’ve had some good recent results so it’s going to be a tough game.

“The last time we went there we managed to scrape a draw in the last couple of minutes with Harry.

“So hopefully we can go there, put a good performance on, but it’s never going to be a friendly.”

Kane’s stoppage-time goal secured a 2-2 draw on England’s last trip to Scotland in 2017.

Walker was still a Tottenham team-mate of the striker at that point and it was widely reported this summer that the pair could have linked back up at Bayern Munich.

Kane moved to the Bundesliga but the 33-year-old has stayed with treble winners City, where his current deal expires at the end of the season.

“I have an obligation to fulfil my contract,” Walker said. “Obviously things haven’t gone for whatever way. Whichever way you want to look at it, it’s not happened.

“But I’m a Manchester City player. I want to stay at this club for as long as possible.

“But I need to do what’s right for me personally first and that’s stay at the top for as long as possible because there’s a lot of ex-players who’ve told me once you starting coming down it is difficult.

“So, if I can fulfil this season and many more hopefully at Manchester City that would be fantastic.”

Gareth Southgate is looking forward to another really good test and “important learning step” as England head to Scotland for their first friendly in 18 months.

The Euro 2020 runners-up are among the favourites to win next year’s finals in Germany, which they are within touching distance of despite Saturday’s 1-1 qualification draw against Ukraine.

Long-serving Kyle Walker’s first-ever England goal cancelled out Oleksandr Zinchenko’s opener in front of a yellow and blue wall at the rocking Tarczynski Arena in Wroclaw, Poland.

It felt like a home game despite Ukraine being forced to play away from their homeland due to Russia’s ongoing invasion, leaving Southgate to reflect on an important point and valuable learning experience.

The 53-year-old is expecting a similar test when they face in-form Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday evening in England’s first friendly since beating the Ivory Coast at Wembley in March 2022.

“We can have everybody in the squad involved for the next one,” Southgate said after 16 successive competitive matches, covering last year’s Nations League campaign, the 2022 World Cup and this qualifying campaign.

“We’ll assess everybody over there over the next 24 to 48 hours because it’s another really good test.

“Another hostile environment, a team that are playing really well.

“You know, they’re in great form, full of confidence so it’s another important learning step for us.” The nations last faced one another in June 2021, when they played out a hard-fought 0-0 draw at Wembley in the European Championship group stage.

Scotland, like England, are on the cusp of qualification for next summer’s Euros, with Friday’s 3-0 triumph in Cyprus extending their outstanding winning start in Group A to a fifth match.

Southgate’s side do not head into the friendly on the same high having failed to click against Ukraine, after which James Maddison said it was important to dig in and take a point if the attack is not firing.

“James would be one that won’t have played in an England game like that in the past,” the England manager said. “Marc (Guehi), Chilly [Ben Chilwell] wouldn’t have played a huge number of those games for us either.

“So, the only way to learn and grow as a team is to have those sorts of experiences. “To go behind in a game like that is a challenge, but we stayed calm.

“I’m not so sure it was a case of digging in because I think we were in control of the game. “But we had to defend some counter-attack moments and a couple of set plays well.

“And, yeah, without a doubt, to go through that sort of experience is good learning for several of the players.

“I think on a night like this the experienced players were really important for the team and I thought they all did a very, very good job.”

Southgate rued too many turnovers and a lack of attacking fluency on Saturday night, when skipper Harry Kane took it upon himself to spark England into life.

Ukraine stood off the striker and watched him fire an exceptional diagonal ball from just outside the centre circle over Vitaliy Mykolenko to put in Walker to score.

“In the end, it was difficult for all of the forward players to find space between Ukraine’s midfield and defence,” Southgate said. “I thought they did that as a team very well.

“I thought occasionally we were coming too deep outside of the block, but when you do that, if you’ve got players with that range of passing, then it’s an alternative way of breaking them down.

“The important thing was as he was dropping, Kyle making the run he did.

“He’s got outstanding vision but also technical quality to make those passes.”

Steve Borthwick insists England are determined to deliver more triumphant nights at the World Cup after George Ford kicked them to a stunning 27-10 victory over Argentina in Marseille.

England defied the third minute red card shown to Tom Curry for a dangerous challenge to put one foot in the knockout phase at the expense of their closest rivals in Pool D.

Ford emerged as the architect of the Pumas’ death by a thousand cuts by kicking six penalties and three drop-goals, as well as providing the generalship needed to overcome Curry’s absence.

“I’m really pleased for the supporters around that stadium too – they were absolutely magnificent,” head coach Borthwick said.

“There are tens of thousands of England supporters in France and they are going to follow us around and spend a lot of money to do that.

“We want to make sure they have nights to remember and I think they’ll remember this one.

“All the people back home in their living rooms on their sofas and in the pubs, I hope they had a good night. We hope they’ll have another good night against Japan next Sunday.”

There were heroes across the field and none more so than Ford, who provided the leadership as England threatened to be engulfed by the crisis presented by a fourth red card in six Tests.

The fightback was given impetus through Ford’s early drop-goals and the Sale fly-half believes they can make a difference over the coming weeks.

“It’s a great weapon for us. We know how important and big drop-goals can be at World Cups,” Ford said.

“Just the way the game unfolded, we went a man down quite early but it was greasy, it was difficult to hold the ball for many phases.

“In our heads we wanted to be clinical in terms of coming away with points when we had good field position. But it’s incredibly hard to attack when they’ve got a lot of numbers in the line.”

Argentina boss Michael Cheika admitted it was a frustrating evening for his Pumas, who were shambolic for most of the match.

“Pretty much everything that could go wrong did go wrong. We let the play get too stop-start. England played the circumstances very well and full credit to them,” Cheika said.

“There was almost no play. There were so many stoppages. The play we did get we didn’t master very well. That was by design by the other team. They did it very well.

“They put us in that corner. We’ll take what we need from it and get on with the next game.”

“The World Cup is not over. We still have work to do to qualify. Our players will take a lot from this experience.”

The Royal Marines told England boss Gareth Southgate that Harry Kane would make the perfect captain, the striker has revealed.

The Bayern Munich player heads back to Scotland for a friendly at Hampden Park, where he first skippered the national team, on Tuesday.

Six years ago Southgate took his squad for a surprise weekend at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines in Devon.

They camped, hiked and were dunked in the feared sheep dip as the Marines tested their physical and mental strength during a boding exercise which helped Southgate decide his skipper.

A few days later, Kane was handed the armband and scored a last-gasp leveller in the 2-2 draw in Glasgow.

“I remember that trip very clearly,” he said. “We had a fantastic time and I think Gareth did use that to see who stood out in terms of leadership.

“Leadership comes in many ways. It isn’t just the guy in the front shooting the paintball. Maybe the way I got on with the Marines and the way I handled certain situations.

“I know that Gareth asked some of the Marines afterwards who they thought were natural leaders, who were approachable and who other players were leaning towards to talk to. Things like that.

“I think that might have helped in me becoming captain. It was a fantastic few days. Some great memories that will be with me forever.

“It helped the whole squad get to know each other. We had no phones for three days, we were camping in the woods. That helped us, not just as a team. It helped us become closer.

“We did a camping thing where we learned to put up our own tents and had the rations the Marine guys have when they’re going to war.

“We woke up at sunrise and did a trek with all the stuff on our backs. Then we did an obstacle course. That was fun, although I think they left out some of the tougher parts.

“We had to follow the Marines. Whenever they shouted ‘down’ we had to crawl in the mud, though stones and the sheep dip.

“So we were all soaking wet, with sand and mud everywhere, and we thought we were going to get in a car and go back to camp, until they told us we were walking back – which was another hour on the road. That was probably the hardest part, it was mentally tough.

“Then we got back to the place we were staying. I was looking forward to a nice, hot shower and it was just a bit of water dripping out. It was just brutal.”

Kane returns to Hampden as England’s record-breaking skipper with 58 goals in 84 caps.

Back in 2017, Kane scored just his sixth international goal with a close-range volley from Raheem Sterling’s inch-perfect pass and remembers the World Cup qualifying draw well.

“First of all I was extremely proud to be leading the boys out and I thought it was an amazing atmosphere, even from the national anthems,” said the 30-year-old.

“The noise at Hampden Park is still one of the best atmosphere’s I’ve been a part of. The game was OK. We got ahead and then they quickly turned it around with two great free-kicks and then you’re thinking about being an Englishman losing to Scotland.

“That isn’t the most ideal situation – especially when it’s your first game as captain, so it was nice to score in the last minute.

“To be honest, I don’t think I realised how important the goal was until after the game, then I heard all the talk around it. For me, not to lose my first game as captain was important and it’s a nice memory.”

Kane has linked up with England for the first time since his £100million move from Tottenham to Bayern.

He has scored three goals in his first three starts and slotted into life in Germany, including a club photoshoot while dressed in Lederhosen and posing with fake beer.

He said: “It was alright actually. The shorts were a bit heavier than I thought. It wasn’t even real beer – it was just to look good.

“We have a day when all the players and staff go to Oktoberfest. I don’t know when that will be, but I’ve heard it’s really good.”

George Ford masterminded a remarkable England victory forged in adversity after Argentina were toppled 27-10 in their World Cup opener despite Tom Curry being sent off in the third minute.

Ford led England out of a crisis created by Curry’s dangerous challenge on Juan Cruz Mallia that resulted in the Sale flanker’s yellow card being upgraded to red by the bunker review system.

Taking command, Ford landed three drop-goals and six penalties as Argentina were kicked into oblivion on a warm night at the Stade Velodrome in what was one of the nation’s greatest acts of defiance on a rugby field.

While the outstanding Sale fly-half was busy steering England around the pitch and keeping the scoreboard ticking over, his team-mates fought themselves to a standstill with Ben Earl and Courtney Lawes magnificent.

It was an ugly spectacle with neither side functioning in attack, but Steve Borthwick’s men showed the character needed to place one foot in the quarter-finals by taking control of Pool D at the expense of their greatest rivals.

A giant stride forward was taken in plugging their leaky defence, but discipline remains a major concern, with Curry set to join Owen Farrell and Billy Vunipola in being banned for periods of the World Cup.

England will argue that Curry was unfortunate to become the country’s first red card at a World Cup – and the fastest in the tournament’s history – despite the clash of heads that came as a result of his tackle.

And when Santiago Carreras was punished with only a sin-binning for clattering late into Ford early on, they had additional cause for grievance.

Once the initial drama of Curry’s dismissal had subsided, England rolled up their sleeves to withstand a battering on their line by Argentina’s pack, winning a penalty that enabled them to clear their lines.

They have often delivered a spirited response when down on numbers and so it was proving in Marseille as a methodical drive downfield ended with Ford landing a drop-goal.

Ford repeated the trick but this time from the halfway line as a monster kick sailed between the uprights with distance to spare.

The glaring deficiencies in England’s attack were apparent as they butchered a four-on-two overlap, but with Ford landing drop-goals at will – he coolly added a third from short range – it did not seem to matter.

Even with Curry sat watching in the stand they built a 12-3 lead, helped by rattled opponents who were also struggling with the ball in hand.

The intensity was cranked up for the second half, forcing a breakdown penalty that Ford inevitably steered between the uprights, while in reply the Pumas squirted the ball forward to end a rare attack.

Manu Tuilagi cut Santiago Chocobares in half with a wince-inducing tackle and with Ford on target from the kicking tee twice in quick succession, it was starting to look bleak for Argentina.

Over went the fifth and then sixth penalties and although the shambolic Pumas finally crossed through Rodrigo Bruni in the closing moments, their fate was already sealed.

Gareth Southgate focused on England’s important point and a valuable learning experience after admitting his side did not “quite click” in attack in the Euro 2024 qualifying draw against Ukraine.

Having won their first four Group C matches on the road to next summer’s tournament in Germany, Saturday saw them fail to win a European Championship qualifier for just the second time in 23 attempts.

Ukraine, playing on the road due to the ongoing Russian invasion in their homeland, took the lead through skipper Oleksandr Zinchenko to the delight of the partisan crowd in Wroclaw, Poland.

England levelled before half-time through Kyle Walker’s first international goal on his 77th appearance for the national team, but Southgate’s side could not find a winner as they struggled for attacking fluidity and a cutting edge.

“The reality is we’re not going to win every game by fours and sevens as we’ve done in this qualifying campaign,” the England boss said after Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

“That was a really good test – away from home, very passionate atmosphere, quite a few changes forced from the last game.

“For people like Marc Guehi, for instance, his first experience of the game like that with England, which he came through really strongly.

“So, sometimes, especially with attacking play, it doesn’t quite click. We know that the patterns that we worked during the week are what we always do, so it’s not that we approach the game in a different way.

“We tried to refresh things to give them a different sort of problem but today our forward play bar the goal and probably Bukayo’s effort that hit the bar wasn’t at the level that it has been in our previous games.”

The Bukayo Saka attempt that was tipped onto the bar by Ukraine goalkeeper Georgiy Bushchan was the closest England came to a winner on a night where they were often passive in possession and toothless in attack.

“I think what I liked was the control of the game that we had when you come into an intense atmosphere like there was,” Southgate said in the bowels of the Tarczynski Arena.

“I thought we played with real composure up until the final third and then I think by the time we scored the goal we’d had over 70 per cent of the ball but that was our first attempt on target.

“So clearly, most of our attacking play wasn’t at the level that we would have hoped it to be. But I thought given the circumstances and the importance of the point in terms of qualification and coming from behind when the crowd are full and the opposition have something to hang on to.

“It’s a very important point for us and we’ve now played the two best ranked teams away from home and we’ve got four points from those two games.”

Despite the frustrating draw, it still remains a case of when rather than if England qualify for the Euros.

Southgate’s men now turn their attention to their friendly away to old foes Scotland on Tuesday, when Ukraine travel to Italy for a key clash in the fight for qualification.

Ukraine head coach Sergey Rebrov said: “The atmosphere was really great – simply amazing. A big thank you to our fans. I thanked my players for their performance, especially in defence.

“It is very difficult to stop such good attacking players as England have, but we did it on many occasions. This is a satisfactory result – another step towards reaching the finals.”

England hit a rare bump on the road to next year’s European Championship as Kyle Walker’s first international goal secured Gareth Southgate’s side a 1-1 draw against Ukraine in Poland.

Having opened Group C with four wins from as many matches, it has long looked a case of when rather than if the Euro 2020 runners-up seal their place at next summer’s tournament in Germany.

England had won 21 of their previous 22 Euros qualifiers but had to make do with a point on Saturday evening having failed to build on Walker brilliantly cancelling out Oleksandr Zinchenko’s opener.

Liam Livingstone is eyeing “genuine all-rounder” status and does not have to look far for inspiration after admitting he feels galvanised by Andrew Flintoff linking up with England.

Flintoff, whose displays with bat and ball in the seminal 2005 Ashes triumph saw him become a national treasure, was back in the public eye on Friday for the first time since being hospitalised with facial injuries and broken ribs after his Top Gear crash last December.

He has unofficially joined England’s backroom team in an unpaid capacity for four ODIs against New Zealand this month, conducting fielding drills ahead of the Black Caps’ eight-wicket win in Cardiff.

The 45-year-old was also seen on the home dressing room balcony wearing a bucket hat popularised by England’s Test side during this summer’s Ashes, and his sheer presences greatly enthuses Livingstone.

The pair played together in two T20s for Lancashire’s Second XI during Flintoff’s short-lived comeback in 2014 and the wisdom he can pass on is something Livingstone wants to tap into in the next week.

“It’s incredible to have him,” Livingstone said. “He’s obviously been one of my heroes growing up. To have someone of his experience lingering around the dressing room is great for all the lads.

“When you see someone like Fred around, it’s always good to chat. Especially while you’re batting: there’s three and a half hours to pick the brains of someone who’s been there and done it.

“He’s probably a national hero, everybody loves that Fred’s joining us and I’m sure he’ll enjoy it as much himself. Over the next week or so, I’m sure he’ll have plenty of laughs inside there.”

Flintoff is not expected to continue with England beyond a series which is a dress rehearsal for the defence of their World Cup crown, with the teams kicking off the tournament in Ahmedabad on October 5.

New Zealand laid down an early marker in the Welsh capital but England decided not to risk Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood because of varying niggles while Moeen Ali and Sam Curran were rested.

Compounding matters was premier leg-spinner Adil Rashid struggling with cramp after bowling three overs, which allowed unbeaten centurions Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell to settle into their stride.

Rashid’s absence increased the workload of Livingstone, who followed up a cameo 52 off 40 balls by conceding just 13 runs from four overs before seeing a tough chance off Mitchell go down in his fifth.

Livingstone finished with unflattering figures of 7.4-0-47-0 but is seeking more involvement with the ball, having recently decided to make a technical tweak to his mix-and-match spin.

“I feel like I work on my bowling to become a genuine all-rounder,” the 30-year-old said. “It doesn’t come as naturally to me as batting does but it was nice that the first few overs came out really well.

“I’ve changed a few things with my bowling, it sounds weird but I’m in more of a development phase. I only made the change about three weeks ago so hopefully I’ll keep getting better and better.

“It’s a technical thing I’ve been working on to try and get a bit more shape on the ball, to ultimately try and get more wickets and become a bigger threat.”

Having greater prominence with the ball as well as bat enhances his hopes of a starting berth at the World Cup, as well as staving off the threat of Harry Brook, looking to gatecrash the provisional squad.

Livingstone felt his outing on Friday was a “big stepping stone” after a diet of T20s and The Hundred matches since a long ankle injury lay-off last winter although he was spotted holding his back, which puts his involvement in the second ODI at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Sunday in doubt.

“I don’t know what it is, to be honest,” Livingstone added. “I was worried that it was my side at first, but I wouldn’t have been able to bowl again if it was.

“I’ve tried to play as much cricket as I can – I’ve not always been at full fitness – and I feel like I’m finally getting back to my best, and hopefully these games will help me get closer to that.

“I’m just enjoying being back playing. Whatever happens in India happens in India and to wake up every morning and to be able to put an England shirt on is pretty special. It would be stupid of me to look past that.”

Ben Stokes marked his ODI return with a resolute fifty as England started the first of four World Cup warm-ups against New Zealand by posting 291 for six at a sultry Sophia Gardens.

Stokes is back in tow as a specialist batter after reversing his 50-over retirement last month ahead of England’s defence of their World Cup crown in India and got back into the groove with 52 off 69 balls.

It was not his most fluent effort but was one of four fifty-plus scores on a tricky pitch after the hosts were asked to bat first, with Dawid Malan contributing 54 off 53 balls before Jos Buttler top-scored with 72 off 68 deliveries.

Liam Livingstone added some impetus with a sparky 52 from 40 balls at the back end of an innings in which left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra finished with career-best international figures of three for 48.

The knocks of Malan and Livingstone are timely given their places in England’s provisional World Cup squad are thought to be the most vulnerable as Harry Brook makes a late case for selection.

Brook had an opportunity to push his claims after being shunted to open alongside Malan, with England cautious over Jonny Bairstow’s shoulder niggle sustained in the drawn T20 series and Jason Roy waking up on Friday morning with a back spasm that precluded his involvement.

It was his first time opening the batting in List A cricket and he tickled the first ball off his thigh to the boundary but it was Malan who stamped his authority on the union from then on, capitalising on wide or overpitched deliveries to the tune of six fours in the space of 18 deliveries at one point.

Malan was adept on the pull as New Zealand’s quicks dragged back their lengths, dispatching Kyle Jamieson then Lockie Ferguson to bring up a 48-ball half-century – his eighth fifty-plus score in 19 ODI innings.

He was unable to kick on, though, as Ravindra halted England in their tracks after an 80-run opening stand. The slow left-armer was already appealing when Malan missed a clip off his pads and only belatedly noticed the ball spin back and thud into off-stump.

Brook then departed in the next over for a pedestrian 25 off 41 balls as a brute of a bouncer from Ferguson brushed his glove on the way through to New Zealand captain Tom Latham.

Matters might have worsened for England as another sharply rising delivery caught Stokes out first up although the ball ballooned agonisingly over Glenn Phillips at gully.

Joe Root scratched his way to six off 15 balls but top-edged a slog sweep to Daryl Mitchell in the ring to give Ravindra his second wicket.

He conceded just eight runs in four overs before Buttler displayed a rare show of aggression by clattering the spinner over the shorter straight boundary for six.

With bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes at seven, Stokes and Buttler settled for watchful accumulation over outright might.

Buttler was busier and the pair both went to their fifties. But the ball after heaving Ravindra into the stands for his first six to go with three fours, Stokes clubbed to cover to end an 88-run stand.

Ravindra was taken the distance by Buttler while Livingstone upped the ante with three successive sixes off the expensive Jamieson.

Either side of two slower balls being shovelled over the leg-side boundary, Livingstone bludgeoned a pace-on delivery back over Jamieson’s head.

Livingstone and Buttler both miscued Tim Southee slower balls up in the air to end England’s hopes of a 300-plus total but David Willey’s 21 not out off 11 balls got them close.

England and Argentina collide in their pivotal World Cup opener at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday with Steve Borthwick’s side in the unusual position of being considered underdogs.

Here the PA news agency examines five talking points heading into the fixture.

Moment of truth

England have been upbeat since their arrival in France, refreshed by the change of scenery that provided a locational reset in the wake of losing five of their last six Tests. The positive talk must now be backed up with action on the pitch but on the basis of recent evidence it is hard to see how the upset will be sprung given so many areas of their game are malfunctioning. The stakes are high – win and England suddenly have a cause to rally around, lose and each remaining game in Pool D brings do or die jeopardy.

Time to deliver

A curious feature of England’s dismal run of just three wins in nine Tests under head coach Borthwick has been the lack of form seen from stars such as Ellis Genge, Maro Itoje, Jamie George and Freddie Steward. If Argentina are to be dispatched, they will need to exit their slump with a bang. On paper, England have a strong starting XV but when so many are underperforming the odds are stacked against them.

Mitchell’s World Cup rollercoaster

Few shards of light emerged out of the gloom of a first defeat by Fiji, but the urgency brought at scrum-half by Alex Mitchell’s full debut was one of them. The Northampton player added zip to the game with speedier service and quicker decision-making and his selection represents a change in thinking from Borthwick, who was expected to pick England’s most capped player Ben Youngs in the number-nine jersey. Mitchell now has a central role in Pool D’s box-office clash despite not being included in the original 41-man training squad, his opportunity arising when Jack van Poortvliet suffered a tournament-ending ankle injury against Wales at Twickenham.

Curry reinforces England

It is a reflection of Tom Curry’s influence on England that he has been propelled straight into the back row despite missing the entire build-up campaign because of damaged ankle ligaments. The squad’s fittest player, his conditioning is never in question and he has experience of making a successful immediate return from injury lay-offs. Regarded as the team’s defensive kingpin, he will provide physical intent and add to England’s breakdown potency in his first appearance since Borthwick replaced Eddie Jones in December. A lot of hopes are being pinned on his return.

Pumas on the prowl

Argentina’s scrum may not be the force of old, but the Pumas have evolved their overall game significantly. Their appetite for forward combat remains undiminished, but is now led by the back rather than front row and their breakdown work has improved as a result. The threequarters possess genuine X-factor with the likes of wings Mateo Carreras and Emiliano Boffelli and they are a cohesive team who will fight until the final minute, playing with a sense of purpose grounded in their fierce national pride. There is much to admire about a team that stormed Twickenham in November and is capable of progressing deeper into the tournament.

England must leave everything out on the pitch as they aim to set the tone for their Rugby World Cup campaign against Argentina on Saturday, though Mike Tindall does not see Steve Borthwick's side as being among the favourites.

The 2023 World Cup gets under way in Paris on Friday, with hosts France taking on New Zealand.

England's campaign starts on Saturday, when they face Argentina in Marseille.

The Red Rose – who were runners-up to South Africa in 2019 – head into the tournament ranked eighth in the world, below Fiji and two places below Argentina.

After a disappointing Six Nations, England will be looking to put things right, and Tindall wants to see a fast start on Saturday.

"The first game against Argentina, they can't leave anything out there," he told Stats Perform. "They're not in a place where they can build something, they have to play [well].

"Imagine that is the World Cup final and then deal with the outcome of it and then rebuild to go into quarter-finals and semi-finals.

"Argentina for England is the World Cup final. 

"They have to play the biggest game in their first outing that should get them into a quarter-final and hopefully in that time you build momentum and they can then go on."

Asked if he fancied England's chances of going all the way, Tindall said: "To be honest, at the moment, I don't see them be the favourites.

"I think I think they can muster a challenge, and we are on the right side of the draw. France, New Zealand, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland, they're going to take chunks out of each other, and you don't know what's going to happen injury wise.

"So all you've got to do is try and stay in their strike, manage everything, and ultimately believe and if they can do that, I think they could create a shock. But I don't think that they're going in as anywhere near favourites."

For Tindall, New Zealand or France are the favourites.

He said: "Just from the grouping, I would say the winner coming out of the France, New Zealand group.

"Ireland are number one in the world but the schedule and the draw they're on is terrible. It's terrible for them.

"Even South Africa, who are built for big physical guys, I just think that France and New Zealand have that first big game and then they can sort of relax a little bit.

"Not relax, but they'll be able to manage their players and manage their time. And I feel that the winner could come out with those two."

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