The stakes may have been significantly lower than was the case in Ukraine a month ago, and the match itself far less engaging for those watching, but for Trent Alexander-Arnold, that was all of very little import as he made his competitive England debut in a 1-0 loss to group winner Belgium on Thursday.
Deployed as a right wing-back in Gareth Southgate’s 5-3-2, the 19-year old was encouraged to get up the pitch in support of his attackers, much like his role in Jürgen Klopp’s 4-3-3, but with the added defensive support of a third centre-back. Predictably, Alexander-Arnold embraced the role, putting in a number of dangerous crosses, as well as a cheeky long-range effort that nearly caught Thibault Courtois out.
Selected as the team’s designated set piece taker, the Reds’ number 66 nearly notched his first assist in an England shirt as well, delivering pinpoint serves to the heads of Jamie Vardy and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, but neither man was able to put their effort on target.
On the other side of the ball, a tackle, an interception and a blocked Marouane Fellaini header wrapped up the teenager’s night before his substitution in the 78th minute. His side may not have got the win they wanted in the end, but Alexander-Arnold certainly did enough to make his manager think twice about who will be starting in the round of 16 match against Colombia on Tuesday.
Whether this was the young man’s last participation in the competition or not, it will have been an invaluable experience that he can bring into next season, as Liverpool look to build on their fourth place and Champions League final appearance from last year.