Rashford Stakes Starting Claim in Dominant England Win
England wrapped up their World Cup preparations with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Costa Rica at Elland Road. Perhaps they would have prefered slightly better opposition to give them a test, but it was hard to not be impressed with the way England played last night. They fully deserved their victory and controlled the game from start to finish. The star of the show was definitely Marcus Rashford, a player who was always on the brink of the starting eleven, but one that could have played his way into a starting spot for England's first game in Russia.
Rashford brought Elland Road to life with a fantastic goal in the first half and he caused problems both before and after that goal. Whether it was his pace or footwork, he put the Costa Rica defenders in trouble a lot of the time when he had the ball. This was an excellent performance, and he really showed what he can offer England should they decide to go with him ahead of Raheem Sterling. One thing Rashford offers that Sterling can't is goal, and if Gareth Southgate wants goal scoring options on the field then he may go with Rashford. While Sterling is perhaps the better overall player, and offers many different things to Rashford, it does show signs that England have a nice problem ahead of the tournament.
Gareth Southgate will have plenty to think about when he makes the journey over to Russia, but he can smile in the knowledge that his bench will have at least one threatening option for him to use if needed. Whether it is Rashford or Sterling on the bench in the opener, should England need a spark for the final 20 minutes those two can certainly provide it.
England have had a good warm up for the World Cup, but the next time we see them it will be the start of three serious games. They have controlled their two friendlies and should go into the tournament looking to play in exactly the same way. They need to be brave, and confident that they can control things, something which they look almost certain to do in their first two games against Tunisia and Panama. Their biggest test comes in the final group game against Belgium, a team who look like having a good tournament. It is that game where fans will see just how far this England team have come, and also how far they can go in the tournament.