England vs Australia match report: Rampaging Rashford makes his case for Euros place

England 2 Australia 1: Manchester United striker scores within minutes of international debut as Rooney confirms win despite Dier own goal

Marcus Rashford is congratulated on his goal by delighted England team-mates at the Stadium of Light (Getty)
Marcus Rashford is congratulated on his goal by delighted England team-mates at the Stadium of Light (Getty)

Marcus Rashford may need to be measured up for a new suit today to ensure he is correctly turned out for England’s flight to France next month.

After emerging from obscurity at Manchester United and proceeding to score less than three minutes into his England debut against Australia at the Stadium of Light in the space of just three months, the 18-year-old can start to turn his attentions to Euro 2016 because, after a performance like this, it will be impossible for Roy Hodgson to leave him out.

Daniel Sturridge, injured again, is likely to be the unlucky man to miss out in favour of Rashford, but there would now be a public outcry if the prodigious teenager did not make the squad for France.

Rashford’s goals are one thing, but his pace and awareness are also impressive qualities and he is the man – or boy – of the moment.

He even helped start the move for Wayne Rooney’s goal in the second-half – which proved the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory – before almost teeing up a second for his United team-mate, to give Jose Mourinho as much encouragement as Hodgson on the day the Portuguese was confirmed as manager at Old Trafford.

But France will come before life under the Special One for Rashford and who knows what he will achieve at Euro 2016 before he returns to Manchester.

Sturridge’s failure to overcome the calf problem that has prevented the Liverpool forward from training this week was perhaps no surprise considering his chequered fitness record and the sense of fragility that surrounds the former Manchester City and Chelsea player.

But one man’s misfortune is another’s good luck and Rashford has now benefited from the knee injury which ended Danny Welbeck’s prospects as well as Sturridge’s recurring injury nightmare.

The Mancunian teenager still had to take his chance when it was presented, however, so simply being selected to start this game was by no means a guarantee that he would impress and give Hodgson a selection headache he could never have imagined just four weeks ago.

Rashford was making his senior England debut just 92 days after scoring with his first shot on his United debut, against Midtjylland, in the Europa League in February.

It has been a remarkable rise to prominence.

Yet he youngster was to write another chapter within three minutes of the start of first England appearance, scoring the opening goal and, almost certainly, earning his place in Hodgson’s squad for France.

The finish was cool and clinical enough – a crisp half-volley from Raheem Sterling’s deflected pass – but Rashford’s contribution in the build-up also highlighted the awareness that has accompanied the eight goals in 18 appearances he delivered for United this season.

A first-time lay-off to Sterling was followed by Rashford sprinting into the penalty area, where he was in the right place at the right time to bury Sterling’s pass beyond Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.

Just two minutes and 19 seconds had elapsed before Rashford raced away, grinning like the excited schoolboy he was just 18 months ago, to celebrate with his equally delighted team-mates.

Wayne Rooney shook his head and laughed on the substitutes’ bench, but moments later, when the camera panned across to Sturridge, he carried the sullen look of a player who knew his hopes were evaporating before his eyes.

Wayne Rooney came off the bench to score England's second goal against Australia on Friday night

Rashford had now entered esteemed company, and erased some stellar names from the record books, with his debut goal.

At 18 years and 208 days, he eclipses Tommy Lawton as England’s youngest debut scorer, while only Rooney and Michael Owen have scored goals for the country while younger than Rashford.

Both Owen and Rooney were 18 when they announced themselves on the international stage at France '98 and Euro 2004 respectively and there is now every chance that Rashford will be given the opportunity to emulate them this summer.

Can Hodgson seriously consider leaving him out of his 23 now? He would be mad to so.

But while the excitement surrounding Rashford’s goal was the outstanding moment of the game, Hodgson will have noted the ease with which Australia dominated the play for long spells of the opening period.

Ange Postecoglou’s team, currently lying in 50th place in the Fifa world rankings, lack the star names of the recent past, but they still carried a threat, with Tomas Rogic going closest in the first-half with a left-foot shot which flew wide of Fraser Forster’s post.

England struggled to threaten to add to Rashford’s goal until Jordan Henderson’s clipped shot on 40 minutes was tipped over by Ryan.

With Rooney introduced at the interval, Rashford was moved out to the right flank to accommodate the England captain in his traditional centre-forward role.

The switch gave England a cutting edge down both wings, with Manchester City winger Sterling producing his best performance for club or country in recent months.

And it was a combination of clever build-up play by Rashford and Sterling which led to England’s second through Rooney on 55 minutes.

Rashford’s dummy close to the halfway line enabled Sterling to race onto the loose ball before he picked out the unmarked Rooney bearing down on the Australia penalty area.

The ball was perfectly weighted and Rooney took a touch before guiding a fierce right-foot strike past Ryan from 18 yards to register his 52nd international goal.

Rashford impressed on his first England appearance, just three months after his first club game 

And he should have made it 53 six minutes later when he was inches away from converting Rashford’s pass inside the six yard box.

With the game won, Hodgson used the closing stages to hand game-time to the likes of Eric Dier, Ross Barkley, goalkeeper Tom Heaton and Newcastle winger Andros Townsend, who impressed despite being booed by a minority of the Sunderland crowd.

But while Townsend’s direct runs down the right would have caught Hodgson’s eye, the only telling contribution was that of Dier, who reduced the arrears for Australia by heading Milos Degenek’s cross into his own net on 75 minutes.

It was a bad one for the Tottenham midfielder, but thanks to Rashford, not the most memorable moment of the night.

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