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No Harry Kane, no problem. Marcus Rashford, his stand-in as England captain, did his best Kane impression with an impeccable penalty to send Gareth Southgate’s side off to the Euros with the momentum they desired.
England have more in them, as has Rashford, but there were promising signs from the Manchester United man after a patchy period with his club at just the moment he needed to produce them.
There would have been no doubt Rashford would have been in Southgate’s best XI six months ago but his form has died away as the season has gone on with just one goal for United in their last ten games and a disappointing Europa League final.
Too much do-good-ing? Too much football more like with toe, foot and shoulder injuries the result. A week off cannot have repaired everything but he looked more like the Rashford of old for England at the Riverside.
Rashford’s mini-rejuvenation, if not England’s defensive fragmentation, was a good advert for Southgate’s policy of giving his European club finalists a clear down week before the tournament.
Just like with the Manchester United contingent on Wednesday against Austria, the England manager decided to allow his Chelsea and Manchester City men to rest up last night.
It is sound thinking after the congested season the players have been through domestically but there were there risks against Romania in putting out a patchwork side, just as there will be in putting the band back together on opening night against Croatia.
Romania were not good enough to take advantage of a lack of cohesion but the World Cup finalists are so Southgate must just cross his fingers and just hope the main men can put it together from the off.
Rashford will almost certainly be one of them. The quart into the pint pot conundrum over how to squeeze as many as practically possible of Rashford, Jack Grealish, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho into the space around Kane remains but he did enough last night with his willingness to run beyond the Romanian defence to prove his value to the England system.
Once he had overcome the embarrassment of allowing a crossfield ball to pass under his foot and harmlessly into touch early on, his combination with Jack Grealish down the left was a constant source of aggravation for Romania and their overworked right-back Deian Sorescu.
They could not live with Rashford’s pace and had Shaw and Tyrone Mings spotted his runs he could have been in behind them twice in the first half.
Not everyone was spellbound. When Rashford went over to the crowd to collect the ball for a throw-in one young fan was so transfixed by his phone he never even noticed he was within touching distance of the England captain.
He tore the Romanian defence apart with a surging run just half the hour but after dropping his shoulder just pulled his left-foot shot wide.
The penalty chance came just after he had been switched to the right flank when Sancho was withdrawn with 25 minutes to go and Rashford, after eyeballing goalkeeper Florin Nita in his run-up, put it away expertly.
Reliable penalty takers, as Jordan Henderson later reminded everyone, will be worth their weight in gold in tournament football.
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