Marcus Rashford’s penalty and Mason Mount’s deflected strike saw England recover from 1-0 down to beat Belgium – FIFA’s highest-ranked team – and go top of their UEFA Nations League group.
The hosts fell behind at Wembley in the 16th minute as Romelu Lukaku ended England’s run of six consecutive clean sheets from the penalty spot. The Inter Milan star was brought down in the box by Eric Dier’s challenge and he sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way from 12 yards.
But his former Manchester United teammate Marcus Rashford was on hand to equalise for the hosts before half-time, converting a penalty after Jordan Henderson was fouled by Thomas Meunier.
And Mount’s deflected strike just after the hour mark put the Three Lions ahead, as his bending effort from the corner of the box struck Toby Alderweireld’s leg and ballooned over Simon Mignolet.
Here are five talking points from England’s 2-1 win over Belgium:
1. Belgium punish Dier mistakes
Eric Dier has impressed at the heart of Tottenham’s defence this season but endured a first half to forget at Wembley.
The 26-year-old – operating at the centre of England’s three-man defence – failed to play the offside trap and a sweeping Belgium attack ended with Yannick Carrasco latching onto a cross to open the scoring in the 12th minute.
Fortunately for Dier, the flag went up as Jordan Pickford’s sight was deemed to have been obstructed by Timothy Castagne in an offside position.
But there was no reprieve for the Spurs man just minutes later, as he conceded a penalty with wild slide tackle on Romelu Lukaku.
The Inter Milan ace made no mistake from the spot to put Belgium ahead and punish Dier’s clumsy challenge.
2. Rashford marks MBE with goal
The day after he was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, Rashford kept his cool to smash a penalty past Simon Mignolet and equalise for England before half-time.
The 22-year-old’s goal means he has scored in four consecutive games for the Three Lions and took his international tally to 11 in 39 appearances.
England have a wealth of options in the wide forward roles and Rashford is competing with Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling, Jadon Sancho and Mason Mount for a starting berth.
But with the Euros looming next summer, Rashford showed why he should be one of the first names on the team sheet with his performance on the left flank.
As well as converting his penalty, Rashford was a constant outlet for England and his darting runs up the touchline caused Thomas Meunier all kinds of problems.
Despite United’s tepid start to the season, Rashford also has two goals in five games, including his stunning solo effort against Brighton in the Premier League.
His work rate, versatility and eye for goal are priceless to England.
3. Lukaku one of Europe’s finest
Romelu Lukaku’s goalscoring numbers make for remarkable reading.
The former Everton and Manchester United striker has netted 53 times in 86 games for his country by the age of just 27.
He also boasts 224 goals at club level and has three in three games for Inter Milan this campaign, following up his 34-goal debut season at San Siro.
Named the 2019/20 Europa League Player of the Season last week, Lukaku showed he is every bit the complete striker with his display at Wembley.
He overpowered England’s defence with his hold-up play and combined well with Kevin De Bruyne and Yannick Carrasco throughout the match.
There can be no doubt Belgium’s No.9 is one of the best centre-forwards in Europe.
4. England’s throwback penalty
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The penalty won by Jordan Henderson was reminiscent of the ones which littered the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The Liverpool skipper was running towards goal as a corner was swung in from the right and went down as Thomas Meunier grabbed his shoulder from behind.
By the letter of the law, Henderson was fouled and the decision to give a penalty was correct.
Nonetheless, it was surprising to see referee Tobias Stieler point to the spot for a foul which would usually be passed over by Premier League officials – who have the safety net of VAR to overturn clear and obvious errors.
5. Mount rewards selection
Gareth Southgate’s starting XI raised eyebrows before the match, with only Kieran Trippier and Dominic Calvert-Lewin called on from the starters who beat Wales 3-0 on Thursday.
The absence of Jack Grealish was criticised as the Aston Villa captain impressed in his first start but was dropped for Mason Mount in the three-man attack.
But Southgate’s team selection was rewarded as Mount struck the all-important winner to sink the No.1-ranked nation.
With the help of a heavy deflection off Toby Alderweireld, the 21-year-old showed why he has become a mainstay in Frank Lampard’s Chelsea teams with an important goal from a wide attacking berth.
As mentioned, England are blessed with many options on the flanks and Mount may struggle to hold onto a starting role when Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho return to consideration.
But don’t rule out the Chelsea academy graduate from playing a major role in Southgate’s set-up going forward.
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