London, June 3 (IANS) Defender Chris Smalling scored with a header five minutes from time to give England a 1-0 victory over Portugal in a friendly football match played at Wembley Stadium.
England’s head coach, Roy Hodgson, opted for a potent attacking trio Thursday made up of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and two of the top goal scorers in last season’s Premier League — Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and champion Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, reports Efe.
The Portuguese side, meanwhile, was without its superstar striker, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was resting after helping lead Real Madrid to their 11th Champions League title last Saturday.
Portugal came out with a focus on defence and head coach Fernando Santos was forced to magnify that strategy after Bruno Alves was sent off in the 35th minute for a dangerous high tackle on Kane in midfield.
Central defender Jose Fonte then was brought in to replace striker Rafa Silva as they focused on pulling out a 0-0 draw.
It appeared the match was headed for that outcome, but after a series of substitutions by both squads midfielder Raheem Sterling, replacing Vardy in the 66th minute, set up Smalling for the game’s lone score past Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio in the 86th minute.
Thursday’s friendly was England’s last before it plays its first round-robin match at Euro 2016 against Russia at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on June 11.
Portugal will kick off its Euro campaign against Iceland on June 14, a contest that will be played at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne.