England 1-0 Portugal: Three Lions finally find a way past ten-man Portugal

Chris Smalling's late header was enough to clinch a victory in both sides' final game before Euro 2016

England 1-0 Portugal: Three Lions finally find a way past ten-man Portugal
Smalling celebrates his goal | Image: Rex
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England: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose; Dier, Milner (Wilshere, min. 66), Alli (Henderson, min. 90), Rooney (Lallana, min. 78); Vardy (Sterling, min. 66), Kane (Sturridge, min. 78).
Portugal: Patricio; Vierinha, Alves, Carvalho, Eliseu; Adrien (Sanchez, min. 73), Danilo, Mario (Gomez, min. 45), Moutinho (Carvalho, min. 73); Nani (Quaresma, min. 61), Rafa (Fonte, min. 37).
SCORE: 1-0, min. 86, Smalling.
REFEREE: Marco Guide (ITA) Booked: Cahill (min. 44), Danilo, min. 73) Sent-off: Alves, min. 35.
INCIDENTS: International friendly between the England national team and the Portugal national team at Wembley stadium - the English national stadium.

England's final game before they head to France for this summer's European Championships eventually ended in victory against ten-man Portugal, but manager Roy Hodgson will be disappointed with his side's performance. 

Defender Chris Smalling headed home a Raheem Sterling cross with four minutes to play to make sure England travel to the tournament having won all three of their warm-up friendlies - adding to victories against Turkey and Australia

Bruno Alves' sending-off for a ridiculous challenge on Harry Kane killed the tempo of the game, and Hodgson will feel he has learned less than he probably would have hoped having played for almost over an hour against ten men. 

Teams give good indication to how both sides will start the tournament

Hodgson admitted pre-match that the team that starts against Portugal would give a good indication of the team that would start in the first match of the Euros against Russia. Hodgson opted for the much-practiced-with 4-4-2, with the midfield diamond that was key to the famous 3-2 victory against Germany in March. Joe Hart took his regular place in the England goal, while the defence in front of him consisted of Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill, Smalling and Danny Rose

Eric Dier has made the holding midfield role his own over the last twelve months, and he started there once again, while his Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Dele Alli, coupled with James Milner, started ahead of him. Kane and Jamie Vardy started as the two strikers, with captain Wayne Rooney starting in the hole behind. The attacking trio had never started an international together and striking an understanding had to be the main priority.

Portugal head coach, Fernando Santos, was without Real Madrid pair Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, who were given extra time off in the post-Champions League-winning celebrations. The back four consisted of players who were all over the age of 30, with former Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho a notable inclusion at the age of 38 - making him the oldest outfield player heading to the Championships. 

Mario, Joao Moutinho, Adrien Silva, and Danilo Pereira made up the Portuguese midfield, while Nani - standing in as captain in the absence of Ronaldo - partnered Rafa in what was a very rigid 4-4-2 formation. 

Lethargic first half sees both sides struggle to break defences down 

It took England just three minutes to find the net against Australia, with Marcus Rashford scoring his first senior international goal. But the culmination of this affair was more typical of an international friendly, with both sides happy to keep the ball while the other, somewhat half-heartedly, attempted to press. 

The energy of Alli, Vardy, Rooney and Kane meant the Three Lions' pressing system was much more effective than their opponent's attempts, but lackadaisical passing meant the front three were unable to pass through the experienced Portuguese back four. Even when Rooney did get a sight of goal, his attempt - straight at Rui Patricio - was met with the linesman's flag. 

Portugal were much more direct when they won the ball, and Nani had their first effort when he won the ball following a sloppy Milner pass, but the former Manchester United winger blazed the ball well over the bar. 

England's first meaningful effort shortly followed; having taken advantage of a Portuguese defender injured and on the floor, Walker moved the ball forward and crossed for Rooney whose header was straight at Patricio. Rooney, although at a slight angle, will have felt he could have directed his header back across goal, and finding the hands of Patricio summed up England's early advances.

Hodgson's side's pressing finally started to click just after the 20-minute mark and Walker was beginning to justify his manager's preference of him when he burst forward for the second time, however, his cross was deflected for a corner when Rooney would have been almost certain to get on the end of the ball. 

Bizarre Alves challenge sees him given his marching orders

A rather conservative first 35 minutes finally livened up when Kane beat Alves to the ball on the halfway line, flicking the ball on with his head, but Alves had already committed to the challenge - flying in with his feet, catching the England forward's head. The referee, Marco Guide, adjudged Alves to be putting Kane at danger and gave him what was almost certainly a mandatory red card. 

The sending-off, ironically, would not be have been what Hodgson would have wanted, having hoped to see how his young, fairly inexperienced side coped against eleven players from a nation of a similar quality. The incident also killed what intensity remained from the first-half, with both sides having to adapt. 

Wayne Rooney tried to find space for a shot in the first half | Getty images
Wayne Rooney tried to find space for a shot in the first half | Getty images

Santos introduced Manchester United target, Andre Gomez, at half-time, replacing Mario, while Hodgson opted to keep his team the same in a further bid to find some cohesion. 

The first 15 minutes of the second-half were tedious; Portugal were happy to sit back, knowing they had little to lose with the man disadvantage, while England failed to exit first gear - almost apologetically attempting, and failing, to break down a resolute and experienced back four. Dier had the Three Lions' first effort of the half, curling a shot straight at Patricio from 30 yards. 

Jack Wilshere and Sterling were introduced to inject tempo and pace into the England attack, replacing Vardy and Milner - both of whom had been ineffective for the first 65 minutes. 

England improved following the substitution and began to get in behind the Portugal back four. Neat work from Sterling out wide saw him turn away from Vierinha, but his cross was cut out by substitute Jose Fonte before it reached Wilshere. 

Daniel Sturridge made a late appearance as a substitute and seemed bright having replaced Kane for the final 15 minutes - his shot from distance whistling just wide of goal. 

The game appeared to be heading towards a slow, underwhelming ending, but England suddenly upped the tempo and found themselves, perhaps undeservedly, ahead. More good wing play from Sterling eventually saw him deliver a cross which was met wonderfully by the head of Smalling and the ball bounced into the corner. The ensuing celebrations displayed more of a sigh of relief than genuine delight, but the centre back's first international goal at least put his Country en route to the Championships with some momentum. 

The second-half performance will be of some worry to the England coaching staff, while both managers will have learned much less from the game than they might have hoped. 

England kick-off their tournament against Russia on 11 June, while Portugal face Iceland three days later.