Jamie Vardy’s late strike gave England victory over Turkey in their first warm-up match for Euro 2016, but Roy Hodgson’s side were fortunate to win a game in which they looked far from convincing at the back.
As dangerous as England were going forward they also struggled defensively, and it took a brilliant reaction save from Joe Hart to deny Olcay Sahan an equaliser in injury-time.
Most of the positives that Hodgson will take from this game will have come from watching his side attack, especially when he tweaked his formation to give Vardy a more central role in the final half hour.
And, after Harry Kane’s second-half penalty miss looked like it would be costly in Manchester, Vardy struck from close range with seven minutes left when Turkey failed to deal with Gary Cahill’s header.
Kane had actually given England the perfect start, linking up superbly with his Tottenham team-mate Dele Alli and finding a cool finish after four minutes, albeit from an offside position.
But England had already survived a couple of scares at the back when Volkan Sen got behind their defence and crossed for Hakan Calhanoglu to equalise soon after, and Turkey had further chances before England’s late show.
England’s defensive issues
With Chris Smalling unavailable after playing in Saturday’s FA Cup final, Gary Cahill was paired with John Stones in the centre of England’s defence, with Eric Dier in front of them.
While Dier did his best and was solid enough, given he was often isolated as the solitary dedicated holding midfielder, the centre-halves behind him were far less convincing, as was England’s general organisation in that department.
Turkey, three places below England at 13th in the world rankings and unbeaten in their last 13 matches, found plenty of space and asked frequent questions of the hosts’ uncertain back-line from set-pieces and in open play.
Hodgson has 19 days and two more warm-up matches left to try to put it right before England play Russia in their opening group game.
It was Hart who was partially to blame for Turkey’s goal, however.
He needlessly dashed out towards Sen when he got behind Danny Rose down England’s left, leaving Hakan Calhanoglu a simple finish from Sen’s cross.
4-3-3 suits Kane – but what about Vardy?
Hodgson used at least three different formations as he formulated his final plans for France.
His preferred shape for the first hour was 4-3-3, although in that formation only Kane looked likely to score.
Three of Hodgson’s five options up front – Wayne Rooney, Marcus Rashford and Daniel Sturridge – were unavailable for this game because they were recovering from playing in cup finals for their clubs.
That left Kane and Jamie Vardy, who have scored 49 Premier League goals between them this season.
The populist choice would have been to pair them up front together from the start, but instead Vardy and Raheem Sterling played either side of Kane in a 4-3-3 formation.
Vardy had few sights of goal and his crossing was not good enough to justify his selection as a winger but when Hodgson switched to 4-4-2 before the hour mark, he came alive.
The Leicester striker won England’s penalty in trademark style, dashing into the box and tangling with Mehmet Topal in a near-identical incident to the one that led to the forward’s dismissal against West Ham in April, but Kane’s usual coolness deserted him as he fired his spot-kick against the post.
Man of the Match – Harry Kane
What they said
England manager Roy Hodgson: “For large swathes of the game we played reasonably well, but there was also the positive for me that it shows we’re not the finished article, there’s still work to be done.
“And when you play against a team of Turkey’s quality – they had some good moments and played quite well – it shows that these next three weeks are going to be vital for us in trying to make certain that we can stay compact at all times and make life easier for ourselves defensively.”
Jamie Vardy, on the decision to award a penalty for a foul on him: “There was contact on the back of my leg and I couldn’t stay on my feet. If the ref wanted to give it the other way he would do that, but he is a professional referee and he gave it as a penalty, so there you go, it is a penalty.”
The stats you need to know
- Jamie Vardy has now scored in three consecutive games for England.
- Harry Kane is the first England player to miss a penalty (excluding shootouts) since Frank Lampard missed against Japan in May 2010.
- England had scored the previous 11 penalties before Kane’s miss.
- Hakan Calhanoglu scored Turkey’s first ever goal against England at the country’s 11th attempt.
- Roy Hodgson is the sixth England manager to reach 50 games (following Walter Winterbottom, Alf Ramsey, Ron Greenwood, Bobby Robson and Sven-Goran Eriksson).
England’s next friendly is against Australia at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on 27 May. Hodgson must submit his final 23-man squad for the finals by 31 May, before their final warm-up game, against Portugal at Wembley on 2 June. The squad head for their base in Chantilly on 6 June and play their first group game, against Russia, on 11 June.
Who do you think should start at Euro 2016? Step into Roy Hodgson’s shoes and pick your XI – and then share it with your friends using our brand new team selector.
Match ends, England 2, Turkey 1.
Second Half ends, England 2, Turkey 1.
Attempt missed. Hakan Balta (Turkey) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box is high and wide to the left. Assisted by Selcuk Inan following a set piece situation.
Foul by Jamie Vardy (England).
Mahmut Tekdemir (Turkey) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Attempt blocked. Yasin Öztekin (Turkey) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Foul by Dele Alli (England).
Ismail Köybasi (Turkey) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Turkey. Conceded by Gary Cahill.
Attempt saved. Olcay Sahan (Turkey) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Ismail Köybasi with a cross.
Kyle Walker (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Yasin Öztekin (Turkey).
Attempt missed. Harry Kane (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Jamie Vardy.
Attempt saved. Cenk Tosun (Turkey) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Selcuk Inan.
Foul by Eric Dier (England).
Olcay Sahan (Turkey) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Substitution, Turkey. Mevlüt Erdinc replaces Ozan Tufan.
Offside, Turkey. Ismail Köybasi tries a through ball, but Cenk Tosun is caught offside.
Foul by Eric Dier (England).
Selcuk Inan (Turkey) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Substitution, Turkey. Yasin Öztekin replaces Volkan Sen.
Goal! England 2, Turkey 1. Jamie Vardy (England) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner following a corner.
Attempt saved. Gary Cahill (England) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Harry Kane with a cross.
Corner, England. Conceded by Ismail Köybasi.
Hand ball by Danny Rose (England).
Substitution, Turkey. Olcay Sahan replaces Hakan Calhanoglu.
Danny Rose (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ozan Tufan (Turkey).
Foul by Harry Kane (England).
Mehmet Topal (Turkey) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Substitution, England. Daniel Drinkwater replaces Raheem Sterling.
Penalty missed! Still England 1, Turkey 1. Harry Kane (England) hits the left post with a right footed shot.
Mehmet Topal (Turkey) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Penalty conceded by Mehmet Topal (Turkey) after a foul in the penalty area.
Penalty England. Jamie Vardy draws a foul in the penalty area.
Cenk Tosun (Turkey) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Dele Alli (England).
Substitution, Turkey. Mahmut Tekdemir replaces Oguzhan Ozyakup.
Substitution, Turkey. Ismail Köybasi replaces Caner Erkin.
Danny Rose (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.