Jordan Henderson was booed by some England fans on a night when Ollie Watkins helped Gareth Southgate’s much-changed side secure an unconvincing 1-0 win against Australia.

A sold-out Wembley crowd watched a surprisingly hard-fought friendly between these great sporting rivals on Friday night as the hosts experimented with Euro 2024 in mind.

England can wrap up qualification against Italy on Tuesday night and Watkins boosted his chances of being on the plane to Germany with a goal and solid display.

The Socceroos can count themselves unlucky to leave Wembley without so much as a goal to celebrate.

Lewis Dunk’s brilliant block denied Ryan Strain ending a fine team move just before half-time and Connor Metcalfe headed off the outside of the post late in the second period.

But England rode their luck to emerge victorious as Watkins, winning his first cap since March 2022, turned in Jack Grealish’s cross-shot at the far post in the 57th minute having earlier hit a post.

The in-form Aston Villa striker will have boosted his chance of being regular back-up to captain Harry Kane, whose place on the bench meant Henderson wore the armband on Friday.

There were murmurs from the crowd when his named was read out before England’s first home game since his controversial move to Saudi Arabian side Al-Ettifaq.

That reception turned to jeers when he was replaced in the second half of a match that began with the innocent victims of the conflict in Israel and Palestine being remembered.

The Football Association was criticised by the UK government and the Jewish community in the build-up to the match for its response to recent devastating events.

The Wembley arch was not lit up on a night when both sides wore black armbands and observed a period of silence before kick-off.

Southgate made 10 alterations from last month’s friendly win in Scotland, leading to a sloppiness and disorganisation that allowed Australia to settle and threaten.

A slight touch prevented Watkins sweeping home with the first noteworthy attack of the night and Sam Johnstone soon brilliantly stopped Keanu Baccus’ curling effort going in off Fikayo Tomori.

England remained in control of first-half possession, but Australia continued to offer the greater threat.

Mitch Duke connected brilliantly with a low cross, flashing a first-time strike under pressure narrowly wide before Kye Rowles hammered over following a set-piece scramble.

England’s carelessness was summed up by James Maddison’s slip and strike out for a throw-in, but the Tottenham man showed his quality when slipping through Watkins.

The Aston Villa frontman took the ball around Mat Ryan and got away a bobbling effort from an acute angle that came back off the far post in the 34th minute.

Debutant Levi Colwill and Conor Gallagher received bookings in quick succession as a frustrating half continued, although it would have been worse was it not for Dunk – the only survivor from the side that started in Scotland.

Graham Arnold’s outfit showed skill and confidence playing out from the back, with Martin Boyle following fine hold up play by playing in Strain to get away an attempt that was blocked brilliantly by the Brighton skipper.

It was a moment Australia were made to rue in the 57th minute.

England returned from the break with more urgency and Trent Alexander-Arnold swung a ball over to the back post after an initial free-kick was cleared.

Grealish controlled and hit an attempt across goal that Watkins slid to turn home on the line – his third goal in eight England appearances.

Southgate made a quadruple change as he turned to his talent-filled bench with around 30 minutes remaining.

Henderson was among those withdrawn and Friday’s captain was booed by sections of the Wembley crowd, which he made a point of applauding as Kieran Trippier took the armband.

Baccus dragged wide as Australia tried to claw back an equaliser and Metcalfe was free to meet a corner with a powerful header off the outside of the post in the 80th minute.

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah came on for his England debut and the visitors failed in their attempt to grab a memorable late goal.

England forward Ollie Watkins is so averse to the public spotlight that he no longer goes shopping, but knows his profile is only going to get bigger.

The Aston Villa striker has earned a recall to the England squad for forthcoming games against Australia and Italy after his season burst into life with four goals in two games at the end of last month.

Watkins, who was not included in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the September games, does not feel comfortable walking around his local supermarket.


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But he also accepts that if he keeps banging in the goals for Villa and England, he is only going to get more attention.

“I go under the radar, maybe,” the 27-year-old admitted. “I’m not talked about enough profile-wise. But I know I have been producing on the pitch since Unai Emery came in. But I do go under the radar.

“I don’t know if it’s me being at Villa. You get some players that are just likeable and out there. I’m not really too fussed about that.

“I just like playing football. Maybe a lot of people said to me I need to push my profile. But I am happy with what I am doing on the pitch and that’s all that matters to me.

“The bigger you are, the more you are in the spotlight. It’s not that I don’t want that, it is doing my job. If I am doing my job and playing well, my profile will raise naturally.

“I remember when I moved from Brentford to Villa, I used to just go and shop in Sainsbury’s normal at Brentford.

“I came to try to do it at Villa and I couldn’t. I came home and I was fuming and I said to my missus I am never going out again, you will have to do the shop.

“Since then I don’t do the shopping, I don’t get ‘bothered’ but a lot of people want photos.

“I had my earphones in and people were like – they take two looks – is that him? When I see that people have clocked me, normally I try to avoid (them). Not because I don’t want to interact with them…once one person asks for a photo then two or three do and it’s hard to do shopping.”

Watkins believes the arrival of Villa boss Emery last year was the catalyst for kick-starting his career.

“Definitely, under (Steven) Gerrard, I know he played me all the time – I’ve played under all managers – but I wasn’t really getting the best out of my game,” he said.

“That wasn’t down to him, I had just kind of fallen into a rut, but I feel like I have gone on a different path and really focused on being a striker.

“Before I was trying to do everything, trying to cross it and get on the end of my own cross and head it. Now I am just focused, being the main man.

“He put a lot of faith in me and gave me confidence to go out and perform, just focusing on scoring goals and helping the team.

“I definitely felt like, I came from Brentford, I scored a lot of goals and in my first year I did well and then I found I hit a little bit of a rut.

“It is hard. When you are in that rut, you don’t know where you are going to end up or what is going to happen.

“I didn’t see my career anywhere else but Villa but it was hard to try and get out of the rut when it wasn’t going great for me.”

Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins has signed a new long-term contract at the club.

The forward, recalled to the England squad this week, is believed to have penned a five-year deal and has scored 50 goals for Villa since joining from Brentford in 2020.

He netted 15 times last season to help Villa return to Europe and had been in talks over a new deal for around six months.

Boss Unai Emery said: “He is always very demanding, to learn and improve. He is doing that here. I have been working with him more or less for one year and today is the same as the first day, our method in the training ground.”

Watkins has scored seven times this season, including two hat-tricks, ahead of Sunday’s trip to Wolves.

Boss Unai Emery insists Aston Villa’s 1-0 win over Zrinjski Mostar proves why their European rivals must be respected.

John McGinn’s added-time header saved Villa’s skins in the Europa Conference League.

Mostar, who beat AZ Alkmaar 4-3 last month, defended heroically and were two minutes away from a battling point at Villa Park.

It leaves Group E delicately poised after Villa lost their opener 3-2 at Legia Warsaw. Their 1-0 defeat at AZ on Thursday leaves all four teams locked on three points.

Emery said: “My message is always you have to respect every team. For them it’s very important to play in Europe, against us, to show their power as well. Their commitment in 90 minutes was amazing. It was not easy to break it.

“In the second half we played very well, we had chances and we scored in the end.

“I knew before the match it was going to be difficult because they are going to defend. That happened in the first half. Hopefully we can build a team with everybody.”

The Prince of Wales was also in the crowd to see Villa’s late show.

Emery added: “It’s the third time I’ve met him, he is welcome for us. He is really feeling emotion with us as well. He met with me, the players and the coaches. We spoke about Aston Villa and his wishes following us this year.”

Mostar threatened early when Antonio Ivancic lobbed over Emi Martinez but lacked any support to follow up and the Villa goalkeeper made a smart save to deny Nemanja Bilbija.

Nicolo Zaniolo saw shots blocked and had an overhead kick saved by the visitors, who were organised and comfortable.

Villa thought they had a penalty early in the second half when Ollie Watkins’ header hit Slobodan Jakovljevic in the face. Referee Urs Schnyder gave the spot-kick for handball but correctly changed his decision after viewing the replays.

Villa then camped in the Mostar half, Diego Carlos, Youri Tielemans and Zaniolo going close before McGinn’s late intervention.

Matty Cash crossed from the right and McGinn glanced in a header from six yards to spare the Premier League side.

Mostar boss Krunoslav Rendulic said: “Aston Villa won deservedly, we gave our maximum.

“We knew we could only put up a good defence in answer to their quality. Unfortunately that effort wasn’t rewarded. If we had defended that goal it would have been a great success.

“I can’t say anything against my players. In the second half we were suffering, we couldn’t go forward. We did defend very well. We couldn’t survive until the end and the final seconds were disastrous for us.”

Chelsea went down to a third Premier League defeat of the season as Aston Villa won 1-0 at Stamford Bridge after Malo Gusto was shown a second-half red card.

Villa broke away and scored through Ollie Watkins 17 minutes from the end, and though the 10 men laboured gainfully to get back into the game their goalless run in the league under Mauricio Pochettino stretched to three matches as they remained 14th.

Chelsea were on top and looking far the likelier to score when a pitchside VAR decision just before the hour mark turned proceedings against them. Gusto had slid in on Lucas Digne and caught the defender on the ankle, and a yellow card was quickly upgraded to red for dangerous play.

Pochettino’s side continued to attack in numbers and it would prove their undoing, Watkins outfoxing Levi Colwill to score on the rebound after the 10 men had poured forward, as Villa won for the second season running in front of an audibly frustrated home support in west London.

Chelsea opened with a greater attacking purpose than they had shown in recent scoreless outings against Nottingham Forest and Bournemouth. After four minutes, Moises Caicedo took a chance and drilled low and hard from distance into the gloves of Emiliano Martinez, a comfortable enough save for Villa’s goalkeeper but an early show of intent from the home side.

Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk were heavily involved during the opening 15 minutes, finding space without the ball and attacking Villa down either flank when in possession. Nicolas Jackson too showed pace and power through the middle as Chelsea threatened from all angles.

But it was Villa, increasingly stretched at the back, who nearly took the lead and in the most spectacular fashion after 20 minutes. Douglas Luiz’s corner was only partially cleared, and the ball dropped out of the air to the waiting Digne who whacked an audacious looping volley from all of 35 yards that Robert Sanchez brilliantly tipped over the bar.

Chelsea had not scored in the league since August but here they played through Villa with a confidence that belied their modest goal return of five under Pochettino.

Mudryk tucked a superb ball in behind the defence for Jackson to run on to, the striker’s cunning to find space matching the brilliance of his teammate’s vision. Jackson went for the near post and Martinez turned it behind, but it was as fine an attacking move as Stamford Bridge had witnessed this season.

Enzo Fernandez should have broken the deadlock when he shot first time from Gusto’s pull-back, the Argentinian failing to make the best of a good opening after Gusto had stretched every sinew keeping the ball in play.

Sanchez saved acrobatically from Nicolo Zaniolo’s volley as Villa came on strong late in the half. At the other end Mudryk capped a lively first period when he raced away from Matty Cash and zipped the ball low across goal only to find that nobody in blue had gambled.

Sterling began the second period as he had ended the first, racing away from Villa down the right and trying to tuck the ball inside Martinez’s near post. The goalkeeper spread himself well to smother, but Chelsea’s threat was growing.

Then came a moment to turn to the tide of that pressure. Gusto’s challenge on Digne was late and caught the Villa defender on the ankle. The initial decision was yellow card, but a pitchside VAR review saw it upgraded to a red as boos rained down on the referee from home fans.

The sending off did not drastically alter the course of things at first, Chelsea’s pressure on Villa’s defence remained. Yet it was ultimately to be their undoing.

There seemed to be little on when Villa won the ball back high in the Chelsea half. One ball released Moussa Diaby who dashed into the space left by Gusto’s departure, and in a flash he fed Watkins.

Colwill seemed to have things under control when he slid to block Watkins’ initial shot, but before he could recover and clear the Villa striker had taken up the ball and lashed his second effort past Sanchez from an angle and in off the far post.

Ben Chilwell on as a substitute missed when one-on-one with Martinez, then moments later Axel Disasi, now moved out to right-back, burst into the box and skewed horribly wide as he lashed at his shot.

Jacob Ramsey tested Sanchez when he stepped inside and curled towards the bottom corner, this time the goalkeeper finger-tipped the ball to safety.

By then, Chelsea’s attacking rhythm had been critically disrupted, and Villa saw the win out amid a chorus of discontent around Stamford Bridge.

Ollie Watkins grabbed a hat-trick as Aston Villa effectively booked their place in the Europa Conference League with a 5-0 away win over Hibernian.

It was the Midlands club’s first European tie in 13 years and the first leg of their qualifying play-off tie was done and dusted by the interval after three headers, two by England international Watkins and one from Jamaica’s Leon Bailey.

The second half promised more pain for the stunned Premiership outfit and Watkins delivered another blow three minutes after the restart before Douglas Luiz added a fifth from the spot in the 74th minute of a one-sided contest.

It was Lee Johnson’s 500th competitive game in management and the Hibs boss will know the emphatic scoreline could have been worse.

The chasm in quality between the top-flight in Scotland and England was laid bare and it did not make for good viewing for those north of the border.

Heavy favourites or not, Unai Emery was taking the game seriously, making one change to his side which beat Everton 4-0 in the Premier League at the weekend with Matty Cash making way for Diego Carlos.

Former Hibs favourite John McGinn’s returned to Leith as Villa captain and he heard some early boos from the home fans, but they soon had more to worry about.

Johnson had the pace of Martin Boyle, Elie Youan and Dylan Vente in attack but they got little encouragement early on.

David Marshall saved a Lucas Digne header and a deflected strike from Moussa Diaby, but Hibs succumbed in the 17th minute when Digne’s cross from the left was glanced in by Watkins to the cheers of around 1,000 away fans.

Watkins should have doubled that lead three minutes later but – unmarked – he headed a McGinn cross over the bar.

Hibs came back and there was a penalty claim in the 26th minute when Boyle went to ground in the box as he tangled with Villa’s Douglas Luiz but Spanish referee Ricardo de Burgos was unimpressed.

Villa always looked dangerous when driving forward and in the 32nd minute, when Douglas Luiz swung in a corner from the left, Diego Carlos flicked on and Watkins stole in at the back post to head into the roof of the net.

Reality had set in for the home side.

McGinn played his part in Villa’s third, sending the tireless Digne down the left and when his delightful cross floated over Marshall, Bailey nodded in from almost on the line in the 42nd minute.

There was time before the break for Watkins to narrowly miss the target with an angled-drive.

Emery replaced World Cup-winning goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez with Robin Olsen for the start of the second half and the Sweden international soon tipped a shot from Youan over the bar, but Villa survived the corner before extending their lead.

Watkins confidently slid the ball into the net from another Digne delivery after getting away from the Hibs defence. His effort was initially ruled offside only for the VAR to confirm the goal was legal.

Hibs needed to prevent further embarrassment but after defender Lewis Stevenson tripped tricky substitute Bertrand Traore in the box, Douglas Luiz knocked in the penalty.

Villa cruised the rest of the game and the demoralised home side welcomed the final whistle which to all intents and purpose signalled the end of their European hopes this season.

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