December 4, 2020

Harry Maguire lays ghosts of Denmark to rest with performance fit for a captain for England – Mirror Online

https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/match-reports/harry-maguire-lays-ghosts-denmark-23002521

A month on, this felt like redemption.

Harry Maguire was given the captain’s armband, scored England’s opener and put in another towering performance.

It was hard to believe that four weeks ago, Maguire was sent off before half time, looked a broken man and his form for club and country was under the spotlight.

Manchester United captain Maguire was at his lowest ebb, a nightmare summer looked to have caught up with him and yet his strength of character has guided him out the other side.

This felt like a practice match for England at times but it was still a morale-boosting night for Maguire and Gareth Southgate deserves a lot of credit for his part in the defender’s recovery.

Southgate never wavered, gave him his full backing even after last month’s sending-off against Denmark and it was a proud moment when he pulled him aside on the morning of the match to make him captain.

Harry Maguire’s header gave England the lead against Republic of Ireland
(Image: PA)

That is clever, shrewd and excellent man management of a player who has rarely let England down and, even at Goodison Park last Saturday, you could see the old Maguire had returned.

Maguire sat in the middle of the back three, exuded confidence and has played his way through his problems and England looked in cruise control.

Jack Grealish was superb again, tricking and dazzling his way through midfield to only increase the clamour for him to start in England’s competitive fixtures. How the Republic of Ireland must curse seeing him play for England as another one that got away.

Harry Winks was excellent in midfield, provided an assist and quality with his passing while Jadon Sancho’s finish was terrific and there was a wonderful moment for Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Jude Bellingham.

Bellingham, who is 17 years and 137 days old, became the third youngest player to represent England after Theo Walcott, aged 17 years 75 days, and Wayne Rooney – 17 years 111 days. The amazing thing was that Bellingham came on after 73 minutes and immediately looked at home.

Just a month ago Maguire was disconsolate after being sent off against Denmark
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

It was an easy victory against a very average looking Republic of Ireland side and a world away from the battles in World Cups and European Championships but now they look on a different level, England’s Premier League quality against a lot of Championship players.

That is the cold, hard truth for Ireland who appear to be going backwards while England showed they have strength in depth and even the back-up players are now pushing their claims.

England were always going to win this from the moment they went ahead after just 18 minutes as Mason Mount’s corner was half cleared, Winks put the ball back into the box with a lovely cross and Maguire climbed above Shane Duffy to head home.

Maguire could have got another but for a smart save from Darren Randolph, Bukayo Saka went close and Dominic Calvert-Lewin was denied by a block as England took charge.

They got a second after 31 minutes when Grealish, a livelier in midfield again, found Sancho and the Borussia Dortmund was given way too much space to jink and then find the bottom corner with a low shot.

The changes began to feel like rolling subs in the second half as Dean Henderson came on for Nick Pope in goal and then England got another after 56 minutes.

Maguire’s goal felt like the start of his redemption
(Image: Getty Images)

This time, Saka tricked his way down the left, Ireland’s right back Cyrus Christie stuck out a clumsy leg and it was a gift of a penalty.

Up stepped Calvert-Lewin to smash home a penalty into the top corner as the Everton striker’s wonderful confidence shone through as Harry Kane looked on from the stands.

This was not much of a test, more of an opportunity and also the feel of redemption at least for Maguire.