GARETH SOUTHGATE’S PLEAS for England supporters not to jeer his players taking a knee were defied as the Three Lions laboured to a 1-0 victory over Romania in their final Euro 2020 warm-up game.
After a minority booed the stance ahead of Wednesday’s win over Austria, Southgate urged fans to back the decision of his squad to show their solidarity against racism and inequality.
But the jeers returned to the Riverside Stadium for the second time in five days, where an experimental and inexperienced England earned victory through captain Marcus Rashford’s second-half penalty.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Jadon Sancho struck the crossbar in a first half of minimal quality from the hosts, while Jordan Henderson’s return from injury was marred slightly when he saw a penalty saved late on as he was unable to follow in Rashford’s footsteps from the spot.
A smattering of derogatory chants from a small number in the crowd and a first-half pitch invader only added to the ill-feel from the stands as 6,952 supporters watched on – with numbers slowly growing as coronavirus restrictions lift.
There are due to be 22,500 in attendance for the Euro 2020 opener against Croatia at Wembley next week, where the reaction to taking the knee will be seen across the continent.
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Southgate made nine changes from the Austria victory as three of those players cut from his 26-man squad started.
Ben White, Ben Godfrey and James Ward-Prowse will be hoping to be the one called up to replace the injured Trent Alexander-Arnold and it was the latter who caught the eye.
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