England's Struggles Persist: Bellngham's Late Heroics Secure Draw in Wembley Thriller

In a thrilling encounter at Wembley Stadium, England's resilience was put to the test against a formidable Belgium side, resulting in a dramatic 2-2 draw that unveiled both strengths and vulnerabilities ahead of Euro 2024

by Sededin Dedovic
England's Struggles Persist: Bellngham's Late Heroics Secure Draw in Wembley Thriller
© Clive Rose / Getty Images

In a hugely exciting encounter at Wembley Stadium, England found themselves on the brink of another disappointing defeat but in the end a late goal from Jude Bellingham salvaged a 2-2 draw against a fearsome Belgium side.

Despite a valiant effort to secure a result, defensive frailties continued to plague Gareth Southgate's side, causing concern among England fans as Euro 2024 draws ever closer. From the outset, England faced adversity as defensive mainstay John Stones was forced off early through injury, leaving a void in their backline.

Contributing to this setback was a rare mistake by goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, whose miscued clearance gave Belgium an early lead, which Youri Tielemans capitalized on with clinical precision. Pickford was among the best in the last match against Brazil, and he even saved the team from defeat because he defended a clean chance from the Brazilian teenager Endrick.

However, England did show resilience, equalizing after Ivan Toney confidently converted a penalty. It was 1-1 but soon their defensive lapses resurfaced as Tielemans capitalized on defensive disorganization to score his second, exposing the vulnerabilities that have become all too familiar for the Three Lions.

Although they have one of the strongest generations in terms of names and the role they lead in the The absence of key personnel such as Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Kyle Walker has further exacerbated England's defensive woes, highlighting the challenges of maintaining stability amid an injury-riddled squad.

However, commendable performances from emerging talent such as Kobbie Mainoo provided promising moments, offering glimpses of the squad's potential depth. Despite mounting pressure, England's attacking endeavors showed moments of strength, with Jarrod Bowen and Phil Foden posing threats in the final third.

Still, profligacy haunted Bellingham, who spurned great chances before eventually redeeming themselves with a crucial equalizer in the dying throes of the match. Southgate's managerial acumen faced scrutiny as England's struggles against top opposition continued, reflecting a worrying trend in his tenure.

With a record marred by inconsistency against elite nations, questions are being raised about Southgate's ability to address the systemic issues plaguing the team ahead of the upcoming Euro 2024 campaign. The narrative of England's defensive fragility was epitomized by Stones' untimely injury, highlighting the fragility of the team's defensive depth.

As Stones left the field, his absence symbolized a wider vulnerability within the defensive unit, revealing a lack of adequate cover in key positions.

Jude Bellingham of England scores his teams second goal during the international friendly match between England and Belgium at W© Julian Finney / Getty Images

Pickford's uncharacteristic error further highlighted the need for defensive composure under pressure, highlighting the importance of maintaining focus in high-stakes encounters.

In a match defined by a fine margin, such lapses proved decisive, underscoring the imperative of defensive discipline at the highest level. The emergence of Toney as a viable strike option has provided a silver lining amid England's defensive woes, offering a potent attacking outlet in Kane's absence.

Toney's clinical penalty illustrated the importance of seizing opportunities at key moments, instilling hope in the midst of adversity. The VAR controversy added layers of complexity to the match, with Bowen's disallowed goal sparking debates about the consistency of the officiating and its impact on the outcome of the match.

Such contentious decisions compounded England's frustrations, compounding the challenges of navigating a fiercely competitive encounter. "Yeah I liked it because I know the rubbish we would have got if we lost two games on the bounce.

These are two games that are going to stand us in good stead going into the Euros. I know people will be negative but you have to take these games for what they are. You've got to keep perspective. We had a lot of lads making debuts and a lot of lads I've never played with.

We created a lot of chances. I should have scored. I was happy I could make it up to the team," said Bellingham. Bellingham, however, praised his coach Southgate, who has recently been heavily criticized by English sports portals even though he does not have a full team.

"Of course it's hard for the gaffer, people need to realize how hard it is. You come into these games expecting a fully-fit team and expect to give it a really good crack. It's a really difficult one for us, but I' m sure he's glad with the players he got to see over the two games.

I'm never happy to lose or draw but we've got to be happy with how they've played" Bellingham's was the only one to show England's resilience when the score was unfavorable, and in the end he managed to salvage a positive result.

In his post-match reflections, Bellingham's candid acknowledgment of the team's imperfections showed that the players were also aware of the problems in the game over the last few games. Even though they were super strong selections from Brazil and Belgium, England is definitely having problems.