In their last warm-up game before the World Cup, the Three Lions took on Costa Rica in Leeds. In a fairly routine effort, England won 2-0. Here’s my look at both goals:

Marcus Rashford-13′

England’s opener begins with a pass from pivot midfielder Jordan Henderson to his attacking midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Green line). Loftus-Cheek’s space is created by striker Marcus Rashford’s movement into the space between Costa Rica’s defense and midfield, keeping the Costa Rican midfielder away from Loftus-Cheek (Red line).

 

Once Loftus-Cheek receives the ball, wingback Trent Alexander-Arnold starts his run up the flank and behind los Ticos’ line (Red line). Alexander-Arnold’s run worries both Costa Rican defenders, Oviedo and Calvo, and opens space for Rashford.

 

Alexander-Arnold’s run forces Calvo to stay deep instead of closing down Ashford (Blue line). Hence, Rashford has plenty of space to turn and survey the field.

 

Seeing Calvo’s decision to cut off the pass to Alexander-Arnold, Rashford lines up the shot and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Take Aways: As most commenters have pointed out, one of this England squad’s strengths is their team speed. Here, for example, the threat of Alexander-Arnold using his pace to slip behind their line, forces the Costa Rican defense to stay back. Had the young wingback not made his overlapping run, Calvo could have closed down Rashford.  A key for England throughout the upcoming tournament will be their ability to threaten the flanks with speed. As we can see, when Southgate’s men do so, the technical ability of their central players is deadly.

Danny Welbeck-76′

Attacking midfielder Dele Alli’s dribbling opened the second English goal- a wonderful effort considering only three English players were involved while Costa Rica had eight men back. As Alli pushes up the field, the threat of his pace with the ball at his feet (Green dotted line) forces Costa Rican defender Giancarlo Gonzalez to go to ground (Red dotted circle). As Gonzalez commits, Alli lays the ball off for Rashford to continue wide. While Alli and Rashford threatened out wide, striker Danny Welbeck stayed central keeping two Costa Rican center backs occupied.

 

Rashford’s pace threatens los ticos‘ backline as well, forcing defender Ian Smith to stay wide in support (Blue dotted circle and line). Rashford, then, has a lane to complete the give and go with Alli (Green line). Ali’s move central pulls Kendall Waston out of position into a no-man’s land (Red circle).

 

Upon receiving the ball, Alli has loads of space to survey the box while Waston tries to close him down. Welbeck has stayed beyond Francisco Calvo’s back shoulder, giving Ali an easy target for a cross.

 

All that is left for Alli to do, then, is clip a ball towards the back post, leaving Welbeck a fairly easy finish.

Take Aways: Apart from wonder goals (like Ashford’s above), the Three Lions will need to put opposing defenses in situations like this to score. Their pace on the wings will do them no good if players like Alli are not able to threaten backlines with their technical abilities. However, when opposing fullbacks have to honor pace out wide and support their midfielders centrally, the space will open up for England.

Full Highlights

What did you take away from England’s performance against Los Ticos? Let us know by commenting below or tweeting us at @AllOutFootball_ using the hashtag #AOF.