Gareth Southgate made ten changes to his England side – keeping in only John Stones – for the trip to Elland Road to host Costa Rica in the Three Lions’ final warm up game ahead of World Cup 2018 after warning his players that places in his starting eleven are up for grabs.
England tailed off in the second half against Nigeria on Saturday after the visitors switched to a 3-5-2, but produced a performance of vim and vigour throughout in front of a raucous Yorkshire crowd.
The most impressive performer on the night was Marcus Rashford. Southgate’s preferred system with his first-choice team sees Raheem Sterling drop deep into pockets of space before bursting in behind to get into goalscoring positions and that’s exactly what the Manchester United man did at the home of one of his club’s bitterest rivals.
The last time the man valued at £58.5m by Transfermarkt started a match was the FA Cup final, when he was isolated and subdued but he was liberated and lively from the off, drifting to both flanks and producing impressive skill to beat his man on more than one occasion to get the crowd off their feet.
Yet, where Sterling was unable turn his impressive performance on Saturday into goals, Rashford had no such problems. 13 minutes in, the United man took aim from distance and whipped a shot over Keylor Navas that dipped into his top right-hand corner and gave the visitor’s best player absolutely no chance.
It was a moment of pure inspiration from a man who was clearly on a mission to see just how serious Southgate was when he said that places are available for the Tunisia match on June 18.
After the pair’s respective seasons, Sterling is surely in the driving seat but there is little doubt that Rashford played the better of the two in their respective warm-up runouts, giving Southgate a potential selection headache.
With Harry Kane named captain, he will start regardless but should Rashford nip in ahead of Sterling after such an impressive final audition? Let us know by voting below…