And with that, I’m going to tootle off. I know you’re all watching Scotland’s penalty shootout anyway. Bye!
Belated explanation for Conor Coady’s absence: he is self-isolating after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, and will play no part in England’s matches over the next week.
Gareth Southgate has a chat. He is pleased.
I was really pleased with the way the boys played. A lot of young players, a lot of inexperienced players. We used the ball very well, created a lot of chances, could have been more comfortable but overall very pleased. We were a bit slow at the start but that’s understandable, it’s not a team that’s had a lot of time to work together. The longer the game went on a lot of interplay was very good. So I was very pleased. Jadon and Jack, they’ve got the freedom to go either side of the pitch and create overloads, and I thought at times both of them did that really well.
David Hytner’s match report has landed!
It was a night when England’s superiority was so pronounced it felt a little strange to think they had not beaten the Republic of Ireland for 35 years. The run was sparked by the Ray Houghton-inspired defeat at Euro 88, with six draws after that, many of them turgid, but here there was only expression as Gareth Southgate enjoyed doing what he is paid to do – win football matches.
The manager has more closely resembled a politician for much of the season and he could reference a “turbulent week” for the Football Association before kick-off, one scarred by the demise of the organisation’s now former chairman, Greg Clarke. There was plenty for Southgate to savour on the field, principally 61 minutes of driving excellence from Jack Grealish, who further fired the clamour for his inclusion in competitive matches.
Much more here:
Jack Grealish isn’t the most interesting talker in the world. He lets his feet do his talking:
It was obviously good to get my second start, and I thought we controlled the game well and it’s always nice to get the win. I’ve been trying to score more, assist more this season. I got the assist for Jadon, which I’m happy about, but I could have scored and I could have assisted more.
Coming here and training with these guys, it just steps up everything about your game. I’m trying to take as much as I can off them and I think it’s helped me.
Final score: England 3-0 Republic of Ireland
90+3 mins: It’s all over! England have beaten the Republic of Ireland for the first time since 1985!
90+1 mins: There will be two added minutes here, and it starts with the Republic winning their first corner, which Duffy heads over the bar.
88 mins: Long gets to Foden’s cross just before Abraham, and England will have to make do with a corner, which Maguire heads wide.
87 mins: Abraham carries the ball forwards, with Maitland-Niles running free to his right. The forward pretty much waits until a defender finally decides to block the pass, and then plays it.
84 mins: Ireland are massaging their possession statistics, and England are pretty much letting them do it. The home side’s penalty area remains pretty emphatically unthreatened.
80 mins: Ireland have another shot! Curtis with this one, low and hard but from far enough away to make Henderson’s task straightforward.
75 mins: A couple of substitutions I didn’t tell you about because exciting things were happening elsewhere: Molumby and Curtis are on, and Hourihane and Idah off. Both teams have now made all five of their substitutions.
73 mins: Jude Bellingham is a full England international. The 17-year-old has come on for Mason Mount.
72 mins: Ireland have a shot! Browne blasts a low effort from just inside the area, and Henderson saves with his feet!
71 mins: The Republic have won a throw-in, 10 yards inside England’s half. I think that’s their finest attacking moment of the second half.
68 mins: England play the corner short, and Keane is astonished when Sancho hits a hard, low pull-back to him of all people. His first touch flicks it up in the air, and he spins and sends a volleyed shot so wide it hits Abraham, and still goes well wide.
68 mins: More good combinations for England on the left, but Saka’s cross is deflected behind.
67 mins: England win a free-kick on the left, and Saka’s delivery is delicious, but Maguire can’t quite get his forehead on it.
66 mins: Dean Henderson has played two passes. He has been entirely unemployed.
62 mins: Maitland-Niles plays a nice one-two with Mount, bursts into the area, andthen completely mishits his cross when really England should have converted that opportunity into a shot.
60 mins: Five substitutions! Five! Ireland make three, McClean, Long and Brady come on, as do Maitland-Niles and Foden for England. O’Dowda, Christie and Horgan are off, along with Mings and Grealish.
57 mins: England are pretty much playing with a front five and a back five at the moment. Maguire has the ball in defence, so he lifts it over the Irish midfield and onto the chest of the unmarked Saka, and England are on the attack again.
GOAL! England 3-0 Republic of Ireland (Calvert-Lewin, 56 mins)
That’s an impeccable penalty from Calvert-Lewin! Randolph dives low to his left while the ball is whipped the other way, perfectly into the top corner.
Penalty to England!
55 mins: Saka runs into the area, is tripped by Christie about a foot the wrong side of the line, and the referee points to the spot!
51 mins: England have started the second half not so much on the front foot as on the front yard. Saka crosses to the far post, but the ball brushes Doherty’s eyebrows and the slight change in flight is enough to befuddle Calvert-Lewin, who heads wide.
49 mins: Grealish plays the ball into Mings, who releases Saka with an excellent backheel, but the finish is poor and the ball hits only the side netting.
49 mins: If you’d like to read about a match that actually meant something, this might be up your street:
47 mins: England lead 11-1 on shots after the first half, and 10-0 on corners. Grealish has England’s 12th shot, from 15 yards or so, but it curls a couple of yards wide.
The first of those substitutions involves Dean Henderson, who has replaced Nick Pope at the break.
The players are on their way back out. Hold on to your hats, there are going to be a lot of substitutions in the next 50 minutes or so.
“No wish to open up the same old debate but I just think Grealish is the best pound for pound midfielder England have got,” writes Dean Kinsella. “Aside from his vision and skill, he’s such a grafter.” He is outstanding, and I can see him and Sancho combining for quite a few more goals over the next few years. Also, he and Ross Barkley were absolutely thrilling together against Arsenal at the weekend.
Half time: England 2-0 Republic of Ireland
45+2 mins: A shot from Mings rolls wide, and that’s the end of a first half that has been extremely one-sided since the promise shown by Ireland in the opening 10 minutes or so disappeared without trace.
45+2 mins: Grealish runs into the left of the area, gets to the byline and pulls back. The camera pans from left to right, and you’re waiting for someone to appear to turn it in, but nobody in a blue shirt does, and O’Dowda clears.
45+1 mins: There will be about two minutes of stoppage time, and they start with the Republic having a bit of possession, at least until Hendrick gives it away.
44 mins: England keep the ball for a while, but seem in no hurry to do anything very productive with it.
41 mins: England have the ball on the left, but Horgan does an excellent job of covering Saka, who would otherwise have been clear in the area.
40 mins: Hendrick crosses from deep, and Pope comes a long way to claim. Excellent area management there.
37 mins: Another chance! Grealish finds Sancho with a fine pass, and he runs across the edge of the area before shooting back across Randolph, but Christie gets in the way.
35 mins: “What formation are England playing? And if it the 5-2-3 they’ve played in the last few games, is it looking as disjointed? Why would Southgate persist with it?” wonders James Bolle. After a worrying start, it’s working out pretty well. I think there’s a certain calibre of opponents against which you can get away with playing Sancho, Mount, Grealish, Saka and Calvert-Lewin, and the Republic look like they are one of those. England have looked very weak in midfield in this system, with too many people in defence and in attack, but it does allow them to attack well when they are allowed to dominate possession.
GOAL! England 2-0 Republic of Ireland (Sancho, 31 mins)
That’s an excellent take from Sancho! From the last corner the ball is headed out to Winks, re-centred, headed out to Winks again, this time worked via Grealish to Sancho on the left, and he cuts onto his right foot and shoots through Hendrick’s legs, across goal and in at the far post!
30 mins: England are a corner-winning machine. Calvert-Lewin steals the ball from Duffy’s toe, and the defender recovers to turn it behind. This one is headed clear.
27 mins: Another good corner, another Maguire header, and Randolph tips over the bar!