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Cahill and England keep clean sheet in yet another narrow Euro 2016 warm-up win

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Clive Rose/Getty Images

Three warm-up friendlies, three wins for Roy Hodgson's England who, despite the infusion of promising young talent have now produced three "classic" England displays in preparation for their opening match at Euro 2016 next weekend.  Perhaps that's down to Hodgson's insistence on playing the likes of Rooney and Milner and Wilshere in key roles.  Or perhaps it's the effect of a long season on the young legs of Alli and Dier and Kane.  Or perhaps this is the best it'll get and expectations to the contrary are misguided.

On the other hand, three wins are three wins and come the actual tournament, wins are the only thing that matter.  Should England somehow erase "fifty years of hurt", as Martin Tyler put it during yesterday's broadcast, not many will care how they did it or what position Rooney played.  England have exactly two losses (and just two draws, too) in the twenty-one matches played between the end of the (winless) World Cup and the start of the (probably not winless) European Championships.  It may not be the most exciting football you have ever laid eyes upon, but international football rarely is.

After missing the game last week, Gary Cahill was back in the starting lineup thanks to some injections in his bothersome hip, partnering Chris Smalling in what is likely to be the first-choice defensive pairing in France as well.  They stuck to their tasks well enough, I suppose, though with Cristiano Ronaldo on holiday still, Portugal were never going to really threaten anyway (that's a whole other set of issues there, for them).  Once the visitors went down to 10 men after just a half hour played, every last remaining bit of competition (and there wasn't much of it) was drained out of the occasion.  Bruno Alves's "tackle" on Harry Kane should be appreciated for just how athletic, reckless, and beyond stupid it was all at the same time.

Belatedly, with just a couple minutes to go, a Raheem Sterling cross in the second phase of a set piece found Smalling's head and England had their winner.  Hurray!

That play was perhaps the only mistake a rather imperious Ricardo Carvalho made all day and he was trying to mark several players at the same time.  Mind you, Carvalho is 38 now.  Or maybe he was just showing off for old boss Mourinho, watching from the stands.  Also enjoyed his little wind-up of Alli who's about half his age.  Proper Chels, that Riccy C.