England struggled to defeat 10-man Portugal, who played without Cristiano Ronaldo, 1-0 in an international friendly on Thursday night at Wembley Stadium.
The only goal of the game was scored in the 86th minute by Manchester United defender, Chris Smalling, who headed in Raheem Sterling cross.
The visitors were forced to play the majority of the game with 10 men following Bruno Alves’s first-half red card after a kick to Harry Kane’s head, but it took England until the 86th minute to find the breakthrough on a frustrating night for the home side.
Englnand manager Roy Hodgson named a strong starting line-up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, although Wayne Rooney often drifted up front to turn that into what was effectively a 4-3-3 system.
It was a tactic that forced the likes of Kane, Jamie Vardy and Dele Alli into wider areas, though, and as a result England struggled to create clear goalscoring chances in the first half.
Portugal, who had only scored three goals in seven previous visits to Wembley, created their first hint of a chance shortly before the half-hour mark when Joao Moutinho’s free kick was met by Ricardo Carvalho, but the former Chelsea centre-back, who at 38 is set to be the oldest outfield player at this summer’s Euros, steered his header off target.
Moments later Danny Rose skewed a first-time effort that Kane could not control in a good position, before another Tottenham man came close when Walker’s swerving drive flew narrowly past the post.
The standout moment of the first half arrived with 10 minutes remaining, though, as Portugal were reduced to 10 men when Alves was shown a straight red card for a head-height kung-fu kick on Kane.
Kane was quickly back on his feet despite the dangerous nature of the challenge, and he almost took advantage of the extra space in attack four minutes later when he collected a pass from Rooney before drawing a save from Patricio with a low strike.
The lethargic nature of the match continued into the second half, and chances became even rarer as England struggled to break down the 10 men of Portugal.
The hosts were limited to a solitary long-range strike from Eric Dier that was easy for Patricio to gather and a Kane free kick that deflected a few yards wide of the target as Fernando Santos’s side frustrated their opponents.
Daniel Sturridge came on for his first involvement in England’s warm-up games with just over 10 minutes remaining, and he soon had a sight of goal, although once again it came from range as he flashed an effort wide.
Ricardo Quaresma then twisted and turned his way into a shooting position as Portugal made a rare foray into the final third, but the winger curled his subsequent effort wide of the far post from a difficult angle.
The breakthrough finally arrived with four minutes of the match remaining as Smalling scored his first goal for England, glancing RUnblock the FIFA World Cup with ExpressVPN the #1 Trusted Name in VPN