THANK JU England 2 Belgium 2: Jude Bellingham’s last-gasp leveller saves Gareth Southgate’s blushes after lacklustre display

A defeat and a draw, some dodgy individual performances and even more injuries.

If Gareth Southgate wanted a perfect warm-up for Euro 2024, then he certainly did not get it against Brazil and Belgium.

Jude Bellingham struck in stoppage-time to salvage a draw for England
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Jude Bellingham struck in stoppage-time to salvage a draw for EnglandCredit: AFP

Bellingham saved England with the late goal
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Bellingham saved England with the late goalCredit: Rex

Youri Tielemans scored a brace at Wembley on Tuesday night
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Youri Tielemans scored a brace at Wembley on Tuesday nightCredit: PA

The Aston Villa man's opening goal stemmed from a Jordan Pickford error
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The Aston Villa man’s opening goal stemmed from a Jordan Pickford errorCredit: Alamy

Ivan Toney scored his first England goal from the penalty spot


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Ivan Toney scored his first England goal from the penalty spotCredit: AFP

Tielemans put Belgium back in front with a diving header from a Romelu Lukaku cross
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Tielemans put Belgium back in front with a diving header from a Romelu Lukaku crossCredit: AFP

England dominated possession but had to wait until stoppage-time to level things up
England dominated possession but had to wait until stoppage-time to level things up
Yet at least Ivan Toney proved why he must go on the plane to Germany – and thank goodness we have Jude Bellingham in the team.

Brentford striker Toney was making only his second England appearance following a betting ban.

But on this performance alone, which featured another lesson in the art of penalty taking, Toney proved why he must be Harry Kane’s deputy in Germany.

Toney’s goal from the spot was sandwiched by two goals from Youri Tielemans with Belgium causing a few problems even though this team is no longer golden.

With virtually the last kick of the ball, Bellingham – having wasted a couple of decent chances – pulled England level for a draw they deserved even though this was hardly impressive.

Here was a reminder that Southgate’s team, despite a huge number of fitness problems, should not be expected to breeze into the final on July 14, particularly with two huge issues in central midfield and at left-back.

Finally, though, at least England have some sort of back-up for Kane, even though we are probably knackered at the Euros if he is missing.

Because as he stared into the eyes of Belgian keeper Matz Sels in the 17th minute, there was absolutely no chance Toney was going to miss from the spot.

Kobbie Mainoo impressed on his first England start
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Kobbie Mainoo impressed on his first England startCredit: Getty

Mainoo covered a lot of ground in the draw at Wembley
Mainoo covered a lot of ground in the draw at Wembley
From almost a standing start, he rolled the ball into the corner to score his 29th penalty from 31 attempts.

This is why Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins, despite enjoying the best season of his career with 22 goals, is likely to miss out on Germany.

Watkins looked lost against Brazil. Toney looked very much the main man.

It was not just the fact that he scored 17 minutes inside his full England debut because he held the ball up well, made space for others with his clever runs and was generally a handful.

Equally, Tuesday night featured an impressive full debut for Kobbie Mainoo whose breathtaking, whirlwind season could see him end up in Germany.

Who would have thought that when he made his full Premier League debut against Everton in November?

Mainoo is not only an unbelievable talent but despite being aged just 18, at no stage does he look overwhelmed to be playing at this level, particularly in a central midfield position where experience is often essential.

Mainoo even came close to scoring but he was denied with a decent save by Sels but that did not affect his confidence before he was replaced by James Maddison.

Yet while Toney looks a banker for the Euros, the Manchester United youngster also has every chance to be part of Southgate’s Euro 2024 squad.

While Lewis Dunk played himself out of the reckoning with another poor performance, having already made a key mistake against Brazil, Joe Gomez replaced the injured John Stones and was excellent while Phil Foden also enjoyed one of his better games.

This was Southgate’s 150th game with England – and 93rd as a manager. Before naming his initial squad on May 21, he has plenty to ponder.

While they did some things incredibly well, England were made to pay for some comically-bad defending.

Just 60 seconds after Stones left the pitch in discomfort, and was replaced by Gomez, Jordan Pickford delivered a weak left-footed clearance which was easily cut out by Amadou Onana.

Bellingham was everywhere for England against Belgium
Bellingham was everywhere for England against Belgium

John Stones went off injured early on in the game
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John Stones went off injured early on in the gameCredit: Reuters
Tielemans delivered a brilliant, instinctive first-time finish from 20 yards, beyond Dunk and the despairing home keeper who was wrong-footed as he ran back into the goal.

England replied swifty with Mainoo and Bellingham combining to release Toney who was bundled over by Jan Vertonghen.

After a quick VAR check, it was a formality that Toney would score and, without even bothering to take run-up, made his penalty look infuriatingly easy.

For a spell, England were overflowing with creativity and energy.

Jarrod Bowen thought he had made it 2-1 but he was offside following Phil Foden’s corner.

Yet annoyingly, despite their good work, England were again guilty of delivering some really lousy defending. Individual errors will kill them at the Euros.

Dunk made a complete mess of dealing with an admittedly-good pass from Tielemans and he then raced to the far post to meet a brilliant cross with the outside of his boot from Lukaku.

Toney hammered a shot into the sidenetting, Bellingham should have scored but he produced an awful header having already ballooned one effort over the bar.

Mainoo was denied the goal that everyone in the crowd would have loved with keeper Sels delivering a decent block with his feet.

Toney was replaced by Watkins but it was Bellingham, thanks to a clever pass by Maddison, who hammered the ball into the corner for the late equaliser.

For Southgate, though, the next few weeks will not just be about the performances of his players on the pitch. He knows all that he needs to know.

The big problem for England could be who is actually fit for the Euros.

Foden was another who impressed for the Three Lions
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Foden was another who impressed for the Three Lions

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