England 3-0 Bosnia & Herzegovina: Cole Palmer, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Kane on target at St James’ Park

A much-improved second-half performance saw England cruise to a 3-0 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in their first Euro 2024 warm-up game at St James’ Park. An England line-up that was likely much different to the one which will take to the field against Serbia in their Euro 2024 opener in 13 days’ time struggled to create against new Bosnia boss Sergej Barbarez’s defensive line-up before half-time.

Eberechi Eze and Cole Palmer had been two of few bright spots for Gareth Southgate to that point, but the Three Lions re-emerged from the dressing room energised – and eventually put their opponents to the sword.

Palmer netted a deserved opener, his first in England colours, from the spot on the hour mark after VAR noticed a shirt pull on Ezri Konsa in the area, before Trent Alexander-Arnold scored an exquisite second with a cushioned volley into the far corner. Harry Kane, who came on moments after Palmer’s opener, added a late third with a typical poacher’s finish, celebrating his 90th England cap by poking home from a corner to give the hosts a margin of victory which slightly flattered their performance.

After the game, Southgate admitted the performance of some players had given him a “selection headache” ahead of Friday’s deadline to pick his final 26-man squad.

“We’re still discussing [the final squad] as a staff. It’s a decision that we understand the significance of for all of the players, so we’re giving it the respect it deserves to make fair, right decisions,” Southgate said.

England improved to dismantle defensive Bosnia

Southgate’s experimental line-up, four days before he selects his final 26 to take to Germany, was largely determined to play through the thirds from the start but struggled to create against a Bosnia five-man backline set up to frustrate their hosts.

England’s best moment of the first half was architected by Palmer, who turned with his first touch and fed Watkins into the box with his second before the forward was denied by Nikola Vasilj at his near post. The lack of intensity commonplace in pre-tournament friendlies was evident when Marc Guehi presented Bosnia’s finest chance to Haris Hajradinovic with a poor pass, which the Kasimpasa forward saw deflected behind from 20 yards.

Southgate retained belief his starting line-up could provide intensity after half-time, and they rewarded him with a second 45 minutes of near one-way traffic. Palmer saw a shot blocked from another pacy move before he was handed the perfect opportunity to net a debut England goal once VAR spotted a shirt pull on Konsa at a corner. Kane was soon introduced, along with other experienced players, with Alexander-Arnold scoring England’s second.

Few questions were answered by England’s evening overall, but the performances of Eze and Palmer did their hopes of a spot in Germany little harm. One final chance to impress awaits them against Iceland at Wembley on Friday.

England manager Gareth Southgate commended the team’s patient approach and the players’ performances, expressing his satisfaction with the way his squad played through the match and handled the opponents’ defensive tactics.

England forward Jarrod Bowen reflected on the match, emphasizing the importance of maintaining energy and intensity to wear down opponents. He discussed his own performance and how missing out on the World Cup squad has motivated him to secure a place in the Euros squad.

The upcoming schedule for England includes an international friendly against Iceland at Wembley on Friday before the final 26-player squad is submitted to UEFA on Saturday, followed by the squad announcement on Sunday. The team will then fly to Germany for their Euro 2024 opener against Serbia on Saturday, June 16th.