Jude Bellingham rescues England after Belgium expose makeshift defence

Jude Bellingham celebrates/Jude Bellingham salvages late draw for England at Wembley – latest reaction
Bellingham's low effort made it 2-2 right at the death - Reuters/Carl Recine

This was a game of two halves. Two halves of a team. Going forward England were dazzling, if not deadly enough, and kept going to the end with Jude Bellingham earning a last-gasp equalising goal with the last elegant kick. But defensively? With the debut of their new away kit this was England in a purple daze. Unforced errors, blunders, mistakes. Whatever you want to call it they cannot do this at the European Championship in the summer and have any hope of winning it. No chance.

Yes, England were without their first-choice back-four – all now injured – and that provides some mitigation but they gifted Belgium two first-half goals, claimed with a flourish by Aston Villa’s Youri Tielemans, through bad errors made by Jordan Pickford and Lewis Dunk.

Sadly for Dunk it was the second time in two games he had been at fault, allowing Brazil to score the only goal of last Saturday’s meeting, although England eventually staved off a second friendly defeat in four days at Wembley here. For Dunk his hopes of making the Euros squad have undoubtedly been damaged.

The prospect of him, Joe Gomez, Ezri Konsa and Ben Chilwell being England’s defence in Germany – instead of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw – are obviously slim. But the problem was not one of organisation or being pulled apart. It was just the needless mistakes. England’s lack of depth has been exposed.

There were pluses. Big, big pluses. As they attacked England were a real threat. They undoubtedly produced some of their best attacking combinations for a long time. Ivan Toney brought the “swagger”, as Gareth Southgate hoped he would, and capped it with a goal from the penalty spot, the first England player to do so on his full debut since Allan Clarke in the 1970 World Cup. And the first Brentford player ever to score for England.

And what a brilliant contribution from Kobbie Mainoo on the 18-year-old’s first start. What a prospect the midfielder is. He has gone from outsider to, surely, being a shoo-in for the final 23. In fact he has the same air of preternatural confidence that Bellingham possesses. He looked completely at home and has to stay in this company.

Jarrod Bowen also prospered and Bellingham grasped the responsibility as at times England were utterly dominant. Bellingham deservedly scored and also showed that little bit of devilment in his game; that bit of edge which the best competitors possess as he picked a running battle with Everton’s Amadou Onana.

His late, late goal almost came through a sheer bloody-mindedness not to lose – and Bellingham later said his motivation was partly through the criticism he believed England would inevitably face – as he met a clever flick by substitute James Maddison and calmly steered the ball home.

On the touchline Southgate punched the air in celebration but also, obviously, in relief. He did not want to go into the weeks ahead facing the scrutiny of back-to-back defeats at Wembley for England for the first time in 13 years and before his squad is selected on May 21. After that there are two final warm-up games – against Bosnia and Iceland who are clearly a notch below the opposition selected for this international break.

Tellingly England were roared off at the final whistle and, undeniably, they showed character and desire, such key ingredients, and it was no coincidence that Southgate kept Bellingham on to the end as well as his captain for the night, Declan Rice, who was earning his 50th cap. Whether their clubs – Real Madrid and Arsenal – will be as happy remains to be seen.

One club that will not be is Manchester City. They lost Walker to injury against Brazil at the weekend with Stones leaving early in this game having apparently jarred his knee in possession.

Southgate took no chances but City, with Phil Foden playing the full game, might feel he already did that by starting again with Stones – especially with the momentous fixture against Arsenal to come on Sunday – and fitness worries will be a theme of the rest of the week in the Premier League.

England were unsettled by Stones’s departure as he walked straight down the tunnel but that does not forgive Pickford’s mistake. It may have been his first, according to the statisticians at Opta, for England in 60 games but it was calamitous and costly.

Pickford was way out of goal on the left and simply chose the wrong option as he tried to pick out Bellingham infield. Surely the goalkeeper knew the risks involved in that? And, so, his pass was intercepted by Onana who quickly found Tielemans who finished leaving Pickford to try and scramble across and cover. He never got close. Frankly, it looked comical. Like a video game glitch.

It was a set of circumstances that needed a quick response and England found it as Bellingham slid a clever ball through and Toney sharply stole in front of Jan Vertonghen. The challenge was made, the ball was not touched, the striker went down and the penalty was given. What an opportunity for Toney, the spot-kick specialist, and, so, he stroked it in – not looking at the ball as he shot.

Ivan Toney scores a penalty for England against Belgium
Ivan Toney scored his first England goal from the penalty spot - Getty Images/Alex Livesey

England began to dominate and it was looking good until Dunk made a mess of clearing a long ball, Romelu Lukaku collected it and played a wonderful cross with the outside of his right boot over Konsa which Tielemans dived to head home. It was a super, clinical finish from the Belgians. From England? Absolutely not good enough.

Still England racked up the opportunities. They were the better team. They pushed on; Foden moved more central and it was wave after wave of attack and opportunities against the nation ranked fourth best in the world, one below England. As pleasing and encouraging as all of that was, and as important as Bellingham’s late goal was, given the circumstances, it did not erase the nagging, annoying reality that they made mistakes which they simply cannot make if they are to be contenders. They need their defence back. There is no substitute.

England 2 Belgium 2: As it happened

10:31 PM GMT

Kobbie Mainoo...not just on the plane, but in the team

After a serene introduction to senior international football, Oliver Brown writes that Kobbie Mainoo showed he has all the qualities to nail down a place in England’s midfield. You can read his piece in full here.

In the context of Jordan Henderson’s ill-starred Saudi sojourn and Kalvin Phillips’ retreat to the periphery at West Ham, his creativity has rarely felt more essential to his country’s chances.

10:24 PM GMT

Vertonghen on Belgium’s performance

It was open from the first minute with the big chance for [Ivan] Toney right from the start. It was two teams that wanted to play football and go forwards. There were a lot of players in our side that have played or play in the Premier League.

It was a positive game with lots of chances for both sides and this is always a special game.

England's Jarrod Bowen (left) and Belgium's Jan Vertonghen battle for the ball during the international friendly match
England's Jarrod Bowen (left) and Belgium's Jan Vertonghen battle for the ball during the international friendly match

10:13 PM GMT

Bowen speaking to Sky Sports about England’s night

We did leave it late and kept everyone on their toes. It shows the resilience in the squad. We would’ve been disappointed with two defeats from two games and that’s not the standard we have set.

Today we deserved more than a draw, but we kept fighting and got there in the end.

Belgium's Orel Mangala challenges England's Jarrod Bowen during the international friendly match
Belgium's Orel Mangala challenges England's Jarrod Bowen during the international friendly match

10:08 PM GMT

Sam Wallace’s FT verdict

09:59 PM GMT

Bellingham on Mainoo

He was good tonight. It’s difficult, I’m speaking like the old head and I know there’s a clamour [for him to be picked] but he is definitely a brilliant player and he will have a great future for Manchester United and hopefully for England too.

Gareth Southgate, Manager of England men's senior team, interacts with Kobbie Mainoo of England
Gareth Southgate, Manager of England men's senior team, interacts with Kobbie Mainoo of England

09:52 PM GMT

England player ratings

Some highly creditable England performances tonight despite no victory. Mike McGrath runs the rule over the players here.

09:49 PM GMT

Decision time around the corner for Southgate

09:47 PM GMT

Bellingham on the importance of his late equaliser

I’m happy with that one because I know the rubbish we’d have got had we lost another game. A lot of lads making debuts, a lot of lads I haven’t played with. Really we should be winning with all the chances we made. I think it’s two games that will stand is in great stead going into the Euros.

England's Jude Bellingham, right, scores his side's second goal during an international friendly soccer match
England's Jude Bellingham, right, scores his side's second goal during an international friendly soccer match

09:44 PM GMT

Reasons for Southgate to be cheerful

Full-time. A splendid late equaliser from Bellingham with England’s last touch of the ball just rescues the Wembley mood at the last minute. There have been defensive mistakes aplenty but England kept going until the end and saved themselves with the last kick of the game. That says a lot, as does the performance of the goalscorer. Bellingham was the pick of the attacking players and he did not let a few missed chances deter him. Excellent assist from substitute James Maddison. Messy game but in certain performances, Southgate will take heart - not least Mainoo, who did very well.

England's Jude Bellingham, right, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal
England's Jude Bellingham, right, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal

09:44 PM GMT

FT: England 2 Belgium 2

England spared consecutive Wembley defeats, and there was much to admire in their football. Mainoo, Toney and Bowen seized their chance to impress, and they played through midfield with real purpose and fluency, with Bellingham, Foden and Mainoo receiving the ball between Beglium’s midfield.

09:40 PM GMT

GOOOOAAALL! Bellingham scores with the last kick of the game

This might be a friendly, but Bellingham and Southgate’s celebrations tell you they think avoiding defeat is important for England’s mindest. Watkins made a nuisance of himself before Maddison cut the ball back into space with a very cute scooped pass. Bellingham arrived and slotted into the bottom corner.

09:38 PM GMT

93 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Almost a case of Bellingham to the rescue as he twisted and turned inside the area, but Faes made a telling block and England have just a corner. Belgium deal with it. To their credit, Belgium have defender their penalty area well in the second half.

09:36 PM GMT

90 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

There will be four minutes of added time. Rice and Onana exchanging words in the centre circle, before Bellingham’s touch let him down at the edge of the area.

Belgium had the chance to seal the win on the counter, but Lukebakio spooned over the bar after he was picked out by Doku.

09:33 PM GMT

89 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Foden so elusive once again in the pockets, but England’s final pass lets them down. Gomez’s cross was cleared before Foden saw a shot blocked. Does not look like being England’s night.

09:32 PM GMT

87 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

A very hopeful plunge to the turf from Ben Chilwell at the edge of the Belgium box but nothing doing. The air has gone out of the atmosphere a little now. Ultimately, these March friendlies will be a hazy memory by the time England face Serbia this summer in their first group game.

09:29 PM GMT

84 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Rice hoovers up again in midfield, the Arsenal man has had to be more disciplined in a deeper role again tonight. It looks like he will be staying on the pitch for 90 minutes.

09:28 PM GMT

82 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Belgium making a triple sub: Openda, Batshuayi and Faes are the players coming on. Both managers using the closing stages to have a look at their back-up strikers.

09:25 PM GMT

England’s challenge

It is a good test for these England players coming from behind with around 15-18 minutes to play. The bigger picture, with the mistakes, and the defensive injuries is harder for Southgate. But this has been a good challenge for this group of players. The question is whether the crowd can see that beyond two defeats at Wembley - if that is how it ends.

09:24 PM GMT

79 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

That was England’s best chance of the half but Foden dragged it wide! Maddison punched a pass between the lines, and it was really positive play from Bowen to nick the ball away from a defender and commit other Belgium shirts. The space opened up for Foden to the left, but he pulled his first-time shot wide of the post.

That was Bowen’s final act, replaced by Gordon. Ivan Toney is also off, replaced by Ollie Watkins.

England's Phil Foden shoots at goal
England's Phil Foden shoots at goal

09:22 PM GMT

77 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Belgium are closing in on their first win on English soil. Anthony Gordon and Ollie Watkins are getting ready on the England bench.

09:18 PM GMT

74 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Rice with a well-disguised forward pass, whipped into Bellingham, but the move breaks down. Belgium looking more comfortable now, some leggy England players out there. Or perhaps players wary of over-exerting themselves. Then Rice snuffs out the danger in his own box.

An England change: Kobbie Mainoo gets a great ovation from the Wembley crowd and James Maddison comes on in his place.

Southgate calls Bellingham over to move him further back into midfield. James Maddison on for Mainoo and the former now in the No 10 role. England are going for it to get the equaliser.

09:15 PM GMT

71 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Belgium making another couple of changes: Theate and Tielemans are coming off, replaced by Vranckx and Meunier replace them. No changes from Southgate as yet.

09:14 PM GMT

England’s midfield looking fluent

Really good second half performances from Foden and Mainoo among others. Question for Southgate is the substitutions now and he won’t want to disrupt the attacking rhythm of the team.

09:11 PM GMT

67 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Kobbie Mainoo close to his first England goal! Sels saves from the 18-year-old, moments after Foden was challenged in the penalty area and appealed for a penalty. VAR checks it, nothing doing. Foden has drifted into more central positions since half-time and has been in a thorn in Belgium’s side. Joe Gomez shown a yellow card for another foul on Doku.

The tackle of Foden was another superb piece of defending from Onana.

England's Phil Foden, left, fights for the ball with Belgium's Amadou Onana
England's Phil Foden, left, fights for the ball with Belgium's Amadou Onana

09:08 PM GMT

64 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Onana has shown his recovery powers on a couple of occasions in this half, extending a long leg to hook the ball away from an England player. Then Tielemans is fouled in midfield.

09:07 PM GMT

63 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Mainoo with another turn away from pressure in midfield, Castagne the teenager’s latest victim. Then Sels saves low to his left from Bowen’s effort after another well-constructed England attack.

09:04 PM GMT

60 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Belgium starting to keep the ball with more authority now, Rice looking a little isolated in England’s midfield - too much space between him and the centre-backs. Belgium feed a dangerous cross along the six-yard box but Lukaku cannot get there.

Belgium change: Trossard is off, Lukebakio on.

Declan Rice of England during the international friendly match between England and Belgium at Wembley Stadium
Declan Rice of England during the international friendly match between England and Belgium at Wembley Stadium

09:02 PM GMT

58 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Doku wins a corner after a sharp one-two almost allowed him to get his shot away. Then he rides two Gomez challenges and wins a free-kick on halfway. England have dominated possession tonight but Belgium continue to carry a threat.

09:01 PM GMT

Foden growing in influence

Impressive five minutes from England - albeit just lacking a finish. Getting Phil Foden receiving the ball on the half-turn makes such a difference. Southgate’s reaction to Bellingham’s missed header said it all. The mood around England dictates and they need a result.

08:58 PM GMT

54 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

England with more slick interplay at the edge of the Belgium box, but Foden’s shot is blocked. They might be losing this game, but this has been one of England’s livelier attacking displays. Bellingham then heads wide from Gomez’s clipped cross. England knocking at the door.

England's Jude Bellingham attempts a shot on goal during the international friendly match
England's Jude Bellingham attempts a shot on goal during the international friendly match

08:56 PM GMT

51 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Doku rolls Gomez and is running at the heart of the England defence, but he fails to find a telling pass or shot. Then Trossard almost played a give and go with Lukaku at the edge of the box.

Then Foden lets the ball run across his body with a lovely no-touch turn, and Toney’s shot from a tight angle is deflected wide. More goals to come in this game, surely.

08:54 PM GMT

49 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Channel 4 are saying that John Stones was walking unaided at half time, so some cause for optimism if you are a Manchester City fan. How long before Southgate looks to his bench? It is pretty sparse.

08:52 PM GMT

47 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

England have found it difficult to pick up Tielemans so far, he is popping up between the lines as Belgium’s spare man. Trossard with a cross from the right which deflects into the gloves of Pickford.

Belgium's midfielder #08 Youri Tielemans eyes the ball during the International friendly football match
Belgium's midfielder #08 Youri Tielemans eyes the ball during the International friendly football match

08:50 PM GMT

We’re back under way in the second half

Rice with an important interception in his own penalty area early on, after Lukaku moved Dunk around again.

08:40 PM GMT

Sam’s half-time verdict

Half-time. Gareth Southgate will likely be quite glad with his midfield’s performance and especially that of Kobbie Mainoo making his first start. Jude Bellingham has also looked sharp. Ivan Toney has held the ball up well. All these are the kind of things that international pre-match friendlies are supposed to give a manager an opportunity to test. However, he will also know that two Wembley defeats in March of a tournament year is not a great way to start the countdown. Not much he can do about that defence, with injuries now to all his first choice defenders.

Kobbie Mainoo of England runs with the ball whilst under pressure from Zeno Debas
Kobbie Mainoo impressed during the first half at Wembley - Getty Images/Julian Finney

08:36 PM GMT

HT: England 1 Belgium 2

England played some of their most dynamic football in a long while during that half, but find themselves behind. The Rice-Bellingham-Mainoo midfield has been punchy and incisive, with Mainoo’s forward runs a feature. Toney has also occupied Belgium defenders and linked well.

The negatives are an early injury to John Stones and the two goals conceded, which came from Pickford and Dunk errors. They were punished stylishly by Belgium and Tielemans, though.

Jude Bellingham of England looks dejected after Youri Tielemans
Jude Bellingham of England looks dejected after Youri Tielemans

08:32 PM GMT

45 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

There will be three minutes of added time to play. The pace of the half is starting to wind down.

Bellingham fashions a yard for a shot, but does not generate enough power and Sels saves.

08:27 PM GMT

41 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Mainoo’s dribbling on display again as he carries the ball forward and wins a free-kick. “You can take the pencil out and put it in pen,” says Rob Green on commentary, when it comes to Mainoo’s place in the Euros squad. Sels claims easily.

08:26 PM GMT

Lukaku slips away from Dunk

Lots of opportunities to stop that second Belgian goal, first when Declan Rice came over to cover in midfield when Belgium broke, and then again when Lewis Dunk let Romelu Lukaku get away. Belgium have looked uncertain at the back too, but they have taken their chances at the other end.

Lewis Dunk (L) of England in action against Romelu Lukaku (R) of Belgium
Lewis Dunk (L) of England in action against Romelu Lukaku (R) of Belgium

08:25 PM GMT

39 minutes: England 1 Belgium 2

Southgate will be pleased with Ivan Toney’s performance as a front man and the drive of his Rice-Mainoo-Bellingham midfield but defensive weaknesses have reared their head. In mitigation, none of England’s first-choice back four are on the pitch.

08:22 PM GMT

GOOOAAALL! Tielemans scores against the run of play

Just as England were finding their groove and their new-look midfield was dominating, Belgium regain the lead.

It is another error for Lewis Dunk, defending against Lukaku in the right channel. The Brighton defender slides in but does not connect cleanly with the ball, allowing Lukaku to bend a peach of a ball across goal with the outside of his left foot. Tielemans arrives on time to plant a simple header home.

Wonderfully inventive from Lukaku, but Dunk shoddy.

08:19 PM GMT

33 minutes: England 1 Belgium 1

Bowen, perhaps thinking about the goal he had ruled out, bends a shot over the bar when he had Bellingham waiting to be teed up at the edge of the box. Then England and Mainoo caught Onana receiving the ball at the edge of his box, but Bellingham blasted over the bar. The flag went up for some reason, possibly for a foul.

08:15 PM GMT

A quirk of Toney’s England career

My colleague Mike McGrath has just pointed out a remarkable international football fact. Ivan Toney has two caps for England and both of them have come on March 26. Thanks, Mike.

England's Ivan Toney scores their first goal from the penalty spot
England's Ivan Toney scores their first goal from the penalty spot

08:14 PM GMT

28 minutes: England 1 Belgium 1

Jarrod Bowen thought he had scored for England, but Var has chalked it off for offside. Dunk won the header at the back post, and Bowen was there to glance home just in front of the goalkeeper, but the West Ham forward was offside. No goal, but a well-worked corner routine from England. No doubt about the decision, Bowen and Bellingham were both offside in the six-yard box.

08:11 PM GMT

26 minutes: England 1 Belgium 1

That was lovely football from England, with a dummy from Toney sending Bowen into space down the right. His cross was very nearly turned into the Belgium net by Vetonghen, but England have a corner.

08:11 PM GMT

24 minutes: England 1 Belgium 1

Since Gomez replaced Stones, he has gone to right-back with Konsa moving to centre-half alongside Dunk. Kobbie Mainoo has settled fantastically well, he has been one of England’s best players so far. He is operating in attacking midfield positions, often left of centre.

08:06 PM GMT

20 minutes: England 1 Belgium 1

Plenty of goalmouth action in this game, and Pickford makes a sound save to deny Doku after he cut inside from the left. Then Kobbie Mainoo was involved in a quick England breakaway, with the ball being worked across to Bellingham on the right, but his shot was blocked.

08:04 PM GMT

A goal to settle Wembley down

That pass from Jude Bellingham to create the penalty moment for Ivan Toney came just at the right time. The atmosphere had drained out of Wembley with the Belgium goal. A great conversion from Ivan Toney makes it 1-1.

Before that - a terrible error from Jordan Pickford to give the ball away to Andre Onana - and then on to Youri Tielemans for the smart finish. Felt a bit edgy at Wembley with the injury to John Stones and a team that looks disjointed. England now have a very unfamiliar back four - none of whom would be in a first choice XI. As for Pickford, mistakes happen when you ask a goalkeeper to pass out from the back. Yet this looked bad because he was so far out of position when he committed the error.

08:04 PM GMT

GOOOAAALL! Toney sends Sels the wrong way

Toney scores his first England goal, and his penalty technique does not let him down on the international stage. However highly you rate Toney, there is no doubt the boy can take a penalty. Which can be useful in tournaments as England well know.

08:01 PM GMT

England penalty! Toney wins the spot kick

Sharp play from Mainoo to burst through the lines in midfield and feed Bellingham, who slipped a pass behind the Belgium defence for Toney to chase. The Brentford striker was caught by Jan Vertonghen, and he is going to be the man to step up and take the penalty. On his full England debut...

Ivan Toney of England is fouled by Jan Vertonghen of Belgium
Ivan Toney of England is fouled by Jan Vertonghen of Belgium

08:00 PM GMT

14 minutes: England 0 Belgium 1

Lewis Dunk tries a Hollywood diagonal, and pings it into the back of Rice’s shins. England’s captain tells him to calm down. Belgium packing bodies behind the ball.

07:58 PM GMT

GOOOAAALLL! Tielemans fires Belgium into the lead

England’s heads were spinning after that enforced change, they never reorganised. But there is no doubt Jordan Pickford is at fault for this goal.

He mis-cued an attempted pass into Bowen in midfield, cut out by Youri Tielemans. The Aston Villa midfielder took the ball on, and reversed a shot back into the corner with his left foot, with Pickford scrambling in the opposite direction. A bad look for Pickford in more ways than one.

07:54 PM GMT

9 minutes: England 0 Belgium 0

Already clear tonight that Stones, Maguire and Rice are going to rack up the passes. Belgium quite circumspect in their defensive approach; it is no revelation that a team with Lukaku up front struggles to press high and intensely.

But hold on...this is the nightmare scenario for England and especially Man City fans. Stones tweaked something when he stretched for the ball a few minutes ago, and will be coming off.

Joe Gomez the man to replace him.

John Stones seems to have hurt his right knee with that misjudgement earlier around the halfway line. He has lasted less time tonight than his Manchester City team-mate Kyle Walker did against Brazil. Two injuries for Pep Guardiola in the space of four days to two key players on England duty. And Arsenal await at the weekend.

England's John Stones receives medical attention after sustaining an injury
England's John Stones receives medical attention after sustaining an injury

07:52 PM GMT

6 minutes: England 0 Belgium 0

A bitty passage of play with Stones stumbling and then Chilwell giving the ball away cheaply in his own half. Belgium fail to punish England. Trossard is playing from the right for Belgium, and I do not think that is his best position, he prefers the angles offered from inside-left.

07:50 PM GMT

4 minutes: England 0 Belgium 0

Toney closes down Belgium goalkeeper Sels, and the ball flicks off the striker’s shin for a Belgium throw inside the England half. Konsa is the England defender tasked with facing Doku’s dribbling and direct running

07:48 PM GMT

2 minutes: England 0 Belgium 0

Lively start, this. From that free-kick, Belgium hit Lukaku early and he laid the ball off smartly before spinning Lewis Dunk who was guilty of getting too tight. Trossard tried a chipped pass into the box and the attack broke down. England goal kick. Then Belgium drop off into a 4-5-1 shape, ceding possession to the home team.

07:46 PM GMT


England get us started in their away kit, which is somewhere between navy blue and dark grey.

Right from kick-off, Ivan Toney almost connects with a Bowen cross but the whistle blows for a foul against the England striker.

07:44 PM GMT

Belgium’s kit gives a nod to Tintin...

Belgium are wearing their new Tintin inspired away kit, the great comic-book character created by the Belgian cartoonist Herge: blue shirts, brown shorts - to match his plus-fours - and white socks. At last some recognition for newspaper reporters in international football.

07:41 PM GMT

The players are out at Wembley...

The rain is still pelting down as Declan Rice leads England out.

07:21 PM GMT

Still the rain pours at Wembley...

It is raining so steadily and so pervasively at Wembley that the open-air stadium DJ - a recent addition to the totally thrilling pre-match - has a sheet of PVC over her decks. It makes mixing look like trying to extract a grillpan from under a particularly inaccessible grill. But on to the teams ...

Belgium only have four starters who began the draw with Ireland on Saturday. This looks like the best team at their disposal with Romelu Lukaku and Jan Vertonghen both in the XI. Neither featured against Ireland. For England it will be interesting to see what role Southgate asks of Kobbie Mainoo. He seems a natural No 8, but might be asked to play further back in midfield.

England's Phil Foden warming up ahead of the international friendly match at Wembley Stadium
England's Phil Foden warming up ahead of the international friendly match at Wembley Stadium

07:20 PM GMT

Gareth Southgate speaking about some of his starters tonight

On Toney: “You can’t disguise the fact that any game for England is an important one. But he has been playing with confidence with his club and all he has to do is take his club form to the international game.

“He of course has different qualities to Ollie [Watkins], definitely a player who gets more involved in the lower build-up and finds those passes.”

On Mainoo: “He’s been completely at ease in the environment. You saw the other night in the little cameo he was very comfortable receiving the ball and progressing the ball up the pitch.”

On Rice: “He’s been immense for us, frankly we would have been lost without him over the last five or six years. This leadership experience is great for him.”

07:09 PM GMT

Declan Rice on leading England

I’ve just been myself. I was lucky enough to be captain at West Ham for a long time so it is natural in a sense. I’m just going to be myself and not put too much pressure on myself.

I think it will be the perfect balance [alongside Kobbie Mainoo], we have been training well together. We had a conversation yesterday about playing close together, because that’s the type of player he is, he wants to play in tight spaces and pass the ball.

You never want to lose two games at Wembley, we’re England. We want to be on the front foot, sharp and a constant threat.

Declan Rice at Wembley before England vs Belgium
Declan Rice at Wembley before England vs Belgium

07:06 PM GMT

Marouane Fellaini on Belgium’s new-look team

The team is younger, less experience and different players. They will give everything to be better than the previous generation. But they still have some key players like Kevin De Bruyne.

A Belgium fan cheers ahead of kick off during the International friendly football match between England and Belgium
A Belgium fan cheers ahead of kick off during the International friendly football match between England and Belgium

07:04 PM GMT

Looks like the rain is coming down at Wembley

Jude Bellingham of England looks on prior to the international friendly match between England and Belgium
Jude Bellingham of England looks on prior to the international friendly match between England and Belgium

06:53 PM GMT

A reminder of the two teams

England XI: Pickford, Konsa, Stones, Dunk, Chilwell, Rice, Mainoo, Foden, Bellingham, Bowen, Toney

Subs: Ramsdale, Trafford, Gallagher, Watkins, Gordon, Gomez, Henderson, Branthwaite, Lewis, Rashford, Maddison, Palmer

Belgium XI: Sels, Castagne, Debast, Vertonghen, Theate, Tielemans, Onana, Mangala, Doku, Lukaku, Trossard

Subs: Kaminski, Bodart, Faes, Openda, Lukebakio, Meunier, Deman, Bakayoko, Vermeeren, Vranckx, Batshuayi, De Winter

06:42 PM GMT

England’s centre-forward and captain on the night at Wembley

Declan Rice is the first Arsenal player to captain England since Sol Campbell against USA in 2005, while he is the first Arsenal player to do so at Wembley since Tony Adams in 2000.

Ivan Toney and Declan Rice of England arrive at the stadium prior to the international friendly match between England and Belgium
Ivan Toney and Declan Rice of England arrive at the stadium prior to the international friendly match between England and Belgium

06:39 PM GMT

Team news

Dunk, Mainoo and Toney replace Maguire, Gallagher and Watkins, while Ezri Konsa stays in after a steady showing off the bench against Brazil. Phil Foden will be playing from the left tonight, after a quiet game from the right.

Romelu Lukaku, Amadou Onana and Jan Vertonghen come into Belgium’s starting XI. Leandro Trossard and Jeremy Doku, who could be on opposing wings at the Etihad this Sunday, are on the flanks for Tedesco’s team.

06:28 PM GMT

Euro 2024 predictor

England are in a Euro 2024 group with Slovenia, Serbia and Denmark while Belgium face Slovakia, Romania and a play-off winner. Who do you fancy to go deepest in the tournament? Plot your route to the final in Germany with our interactive Euro 2024 predictor tool.

06:23 PM GMT

Why England’s shirts will have no names in the second half

England’s stars will play the second half of tonight’s friendly against Belgium with no names on the back of their shirts to raise awareness for the Alzheimer’s Society.

The names will disappear from the England players’ shirts when they return to the pitch after half-time, drawing attention to how people with dementia lose memories, including the names of some of football’s biggest stars.

Tuesday night’s match at Wembley has been dedicated as an ‘Alzheimer’s Society International’, as part of the Football Association’s official charity partnership, highlighting that football should be unforgettable.

A corner flag is seen inside the stadium with Alzheimer's Society branding on prior to the international friendly match
A corner flag is seen inside the stadium with Alzheimer's Society branding on prior to the international friendly match

06:16 PM GMT

Best betting sites

Having a bet on today’s match? First take a look at the offers on these best betting sites.

06:15 PM GMT

England fans at Wembley expecting an improved performance

Kobbie Mainoo and Ivan Toney are expected to have a chance to impress from the start against Belgium as England look to improve on a pretty tepid showing against Brazil.

This evening’s game at Wembley is England’s second and final game of the March international break; their next fixture is against Bosnia and Herzegovina on June 3 when Euro 2024 excitement will be building.

Declan Rice captains England on the night he wins his 50th cap, though Arsenal fans will be watching anxiously in the hope he comes through the game unscathed with Sunday’s key Premier League game at Man City looming.

With Jordan Henderson injured and Kalvin Phillips’ form down the drain, many England fans have Rice, Mainoo and Jude Bellingham as their ideal midfield trio for this summer’s tournament in Germany.

There is a clamour for Phil Foden to be used as part of a midfield three, but that risks leaving England exposed and bogging Bellingham down in deeper areas. Two solid midfielders behind Bellingham, who has played as a roving forward for Real Madrid, could be the way to go and in this case Southgate’s pragmatism is probably justified.

England need much better from Ben Chilwell, their only fit specialist left-back, while Ezri Konsa is likely to continue at right-back with Kyle Walker, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Reece James all injured.

Belgium’s last match was a goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, which even manager Domenico Tedesco admitted was “boring”. Belgium look to be in a transitional period, with Toby Alderweireld, Axel Witsel and Eden Hazard all retiring from international football (in Hazard’s case, all football) in the last few years. Jan Vertonghen, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne may be heading the same way. There is a nucleus of young talent in Amadou Onana, Jeremy Doku and Johan Bakayoko, but this squad does not look of the same vintage as their 2018 World Cup semi-finalists.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.