LEICESTER, England (AP) — This time England held onto the lead after Marcus Rashford scored and avoided a record fourth successive loss.
The forward’s close-range volley in the 54th minute gave England a 1-0 victory over Switzerland in a friendly on Tuesday when coach Gareth Southgate made sweeping changes.
Rashford was one of only two players retained in the starting lineup from Saturday’s UEFA Nations League game against Spain when Rashford’s strike was wiped out and England lost 2-1.
Beating Switzerland ensured the gloom lifted around Southgate just two months after he was enjoying the highs of reaching the World Cup semifinals where England lost to Croatia.
Even against a less demanding Swiss opponent, England still failed to dominate possession and wasted soft chances.
“The pressing was bits and bobs, people going and some staying, so the gaffer (coach) had a word with us (at halftime),” said defender Harry Maguire, who also played for England on Saturday. “We did things a lot better in the second half. We want to keep playing like that, but not to give the ball and chances away.”
It did not help that some of the players drafted into the team have been bystanders in the Premier League this season. Midfielder Fabian Delph is yet to play for champion Manchester City in a league where Englishmen have only enjoyed 30 percent of the playing time in the opening four rounds.
Goalkeeper Jack Butland, deputizing for Jordan Pickford, is now playing in the second-tier Championship after being relegated with Stoke in May.
Against Switzerland, Butland only managed to reinforce Pickford’s growing reputation as a superior ball-player. Having collected a back-pass, he turned and inexplicably side-footed the ball across the face of his own goal.
He was spared an own-goal but was in the spotlight again moments later, offering James Tarkowski an ill-judged short-pass that the defender allowed to run straight into the path of Switzerland forward Mario Gavranovic. He quickly found Xherdan Shaqiri, who hit the base of the post.
England’s most frequent salvation at the World Cup in Russia was its proficiency from set-pieces and it was a strength at the King Power Stadium, with a trio of free kicks gaining them their only real foothold.
Eric Dier, captain with Harry Kane rested at the start, dropped to his knees to head the first delivery a yard wide before the energetic Danny Rose won a pair of decisions within shooting distance.
Neither caused major alarm, Rashford clipping over and Trent Alexander-Arnold providing Yann Sommer with an easy gather.