England vs Malta LIVE: Euro 2024 result and reaction as Harry Kane on target as Three Lions win at Wembley

Trent Alexander-Arnold receiving the keys to England’s midfield suggests one thing

Trent Alexander-Arnold stood and surveyed. He saw the run from Marcus Rashford and the pass was a delight; cutting across the ball from right to left, it floated into the space. But what followed was like something out of a cartoon drawn specifically to show what England struggling to beat Malta at home would look like. As Rashford’s run into the box was stopped and Malta cleared, Alexander-Arnold controlled and drove forward in one movement. But it was too much: Alexander-Arnold crashed into Rashford. Wembley groaned. Rashford limped off.

It was that kind of night. The paper aeroplanes quickly overtook England to lead: more had landed on the Wembley pitch than England had managed shots against the side ranked 171st in the world. Sailing down from high up in the stands, those folded pieces of A4 perhaps made for a more entertaining sight than Gareth Southgate’s side as they toiled and strugged and led only to Enrico Pepe’s eighth-minute own goal. That, sufficient to say, was not enough to please the masses.

It took until the 74th minute for England to finally click. Alexander-Arnold surging through a challenge in midfield to play in Kyle Walker. Phil Foden cleverly finding Bukayo Saka with a slided pass, Harry Kane dropping into position to tuck away England’s second and final goal of the night with what was only their second shot on target. Soon enough, Declan Rice curled in a pleasing third, only for VAR to disallow it due to Kane being stood in an offside position. It was more frustration for Kane, who was booked for simulation after he was brought down by the Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello in a dismal first half.

Trent Alexander-Arnold receiving the keys to England’s midfield suggests one thing

England 2-0 Malta: On a forgettable night at Wembley, one thing stood out

More from Southgate

Gareth Southgate speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live: “If you don’t start games well it’s very difficult to pick it up and we didn’t. We know the level we’ve got should be better, can be better.

“Those games that you know you can win at a canter, the number of games these players are playing, it’s almost a self-regulation.

“We didn’t hit the heights that we have done this calendar year.

“So not enough quality on the ball, and not enough chances created but I have been a player and I know exactly how those games feel and clearly it’s possible we could have had three or four with the decisions as well but we didn’t create enough clear chances to deserve that anyway.”

Southgate on Alexander-Arnold

“He has got outstanding quality. He and Phil [Foden] were the two in the first half that looked like opening the game up for us.

“Marc Guehi was good at the back and the changes brought more quality. They don’t lose by fives and sixes and obviously, we didn’t create as many chances as we’d like to.”

Post match reaction from Gareth Southgate

England manager Gareth Southgate speaking to Channel 4: “It was a game when we didn’t start well and if you don’t start well it’s hard to pick the game up. “e got a goal out of nothing really.

“But the quality on the ball is not normally at that level and it was a game where the players knew they could win at a canter and didn’t extend themselves.

“These players have played so many games and have done so well for us so I am not going to hammer them for it. We weren’t where we [should be] but we got the win.”

FT England 2-0 Malta

Harry Kane has been directly involved in 33 goals in 20 appearances for club and country this season.

Bayern: 16 games, 21 goals, 7 assists

England: 4 games, 4 goals, 1 assist

FT England 2-0 Malta

Cole Palmer became the 13th Chelsea player to appear for England under Gareth Southgate; the most players from a single team to have featured for the Three Lions under the current manager.

Full-time! England 2-0 Malta

90+6 mins: The full-time whistle goes and this dull affair comes to a close. England have won but it’s a hollow victory due to the manner in which they played.

It was far from their most positive or fun performance but the victory is in the bag.

England 2-0 Malta

90+3 mins: Cole Palmer, relatively quiet on his debut so far, goes on a fine run down the left wing. He dances into the box and has a go but the effort is blocked out for a corner.

Malta then defend the set piece without too much trouble.

England 2-0 Malta

90 mins: No they can’t.

There board is raised on the side of the pitch and there’s going to be six minutes of added time.

England 2-0 Malta

87 mins: Trent Alexander-Arnold takes another shot from range and works the goalkeeper into a nice save down low to his right.

A foul over on the left side of the pitch brings England a free kick. Can they work the keeper again?

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