‘Risk off’ return wipes $54 billion from ASX

Australian shares plummeted this week after a “risk off” market sent the market into a nose-dive on Tuesday and Wednesday, wiping $54 billion from the boards in the past five sessions.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed the week 191.3 points, or 3.2 per cent, lower at 5730.6 while the broader All Ordinaries Index slipped 188.2 points, or 3.1 per cent, to 5822.8.

“‘Risk off’ returned with a vengeance to financial markets over the last week with most share markets falling and bond yields declining as last month’s worries returned,” said AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver. “Tech stocks came under renewed pressure and the continuing plunge in the oil price weighed on energy shares.”

The energy sector was volatile this week as oil prices recorded their steepest one-day loss in three years on Tuesday before recovering on Wednesday. Woodside Petroleum closed 2.2 per cent lower at $33.02, Santos fell 3.9 per cent to $6.17 and Oil Search slid 2.6 per cent to $7.50. Beach Energy was able to close the week higher however, lifting 2.7 per cent to $1.72. 

The major banks were among the biggest weights on the market. Westpac fell 8.8 per cent to $25.27, Commonwealth Bank slid 2.9 per cent to $68.90, NAB closed 4.5 per cent lower at $23.77 and ANZ went down 6.5 per cent to close at $25.36. 

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Index heavyweights across the mining and healthcare sectors also weighed the market. BHP Billiton closed 3.1 per cent lower at $32.36, Rio Tinto fell 2.3 per cent to $79.31 and South32 slid 4.5 per cent to $3.38. Healthcare giant CSL fell 3.6 per cent to $183.67 while Cochlear closed 8.8 per cent lower at $160.63.

Aveo Group was among the worst performing stocks this week, falling 13.1 per cent to $1.62. The retirement operator declined to confirm its earnings guidance this week despite flagging weaker market conditions and sales. 

Healthscope led the market gains this week after the company received a takeover offer from Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management worth up to $4.5 billion. Brookfield’s offer bettered an offer from BGH Capital, sending the company’s shares 11.5 per cent higher to $2.32. 

G8 Education said it intended to offload up to eight loss-making childcare centres to add momentum to an improving outlook, with higher occupancy rates at its east coast centres. Its shares lifted on the back of the improved look, climbing 20.3 per cent to $2.84. 

Appen shares rose 11.9 per cent to $12.98 this week after the company upgraded its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation forecast for the full year from $54 million to $59 million to $62 million to $65 million. It said the lift in earnings had been driven by strong revenue growth from existing customers.

Stock watch

IOOF Holdings

UBS retained its neutral rating on IOOF Holdings but downgraded its target price, saying the company was “in the firm grip of structural and regulatory pincers”. The broker cut its 2019-20 earnings per share by 14 per cent after allowing for reduced ANZ Wealth fee and flow prospects, rising fee pressure in the company’s Advice division and softer equity markets. It said that while IOOF’s acquisition of ANZ Wealth was accretive, the upside had declined considerably on the back of rising regulatory scrutiny. It said that IOOF’s Advice division’s funds under advice would come under pressure, compressing gross revenue margins by about 20 per cent over the next three years to 2020-21. UBS downgraded its price target on IOOF Holdings from $9.30 a share to $7.00 a share. 

What moved the market

OPEC production

Saudi Arabia and other OPEC nations led the rise in oil production this year after adopting a “produce as much as you can” approach in May this year. While Venezuela and Iran have seen their production levels shrink slightly, their losses have been more than offset by improved production elsewhere, with the number of barrels produced per day actually rising in the past five months. Forecasts from OPEC this week however suggest the cartel will cut output by roughly 1.4 million barrels per day in order to balance an oil market that is in danger of falling further. 

Palladium

The two platinum group metals were stronger on Wednesday, buoyed by reports the Trump Administration would hold off on imposing new tariffs on automobile imports in Europe and Asia. According to Bloomberg, top US officials are weighing revisions to a report on the national security implications. The news lifted palladium 3 per cent to a record high $US1162 an ounce while platinum rose 1.2 per cent. Shares in Asian car-makersToyota, Honda, Subaru, Mazda and Nissan also jumped on the back of the reports. The spread between palladium and platinum is growing, showing a diverging outlook for gasoline and diesel vehicle markets, respectively.

Aussie dollar

The Australian dollar has enjoyed a strong rally in the past three weeks supported by strong economic data. The labour market report on Thursday was stronger than expected and unemployment remained steady. According to analysts, its poor run this year may be over as it returns to fair value. “We are increasingly convinced this year’s downtrend in the Australian dollar is coming to and end,” CBA senior currency strategist Joseph Capurso said in a note on Friday. “As we have noted before, the Australian dollar looks oversold compared to its fundamental drivers such as commodity prices and interest rate spreads.”

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Link CEO John McMurtrie says PEXA could be a bigger, better IPO in 5 years

Online conveyancing platform Property Exchange Australia could become a listed company in five years’ time after expanding its services and revenue under private ownership, new owner Link Group managing director John McMurtrie says.

Link, which took ownership of PEXA this month in a $1.6 billion deal with CBA and Morgan Stanley, may look to spin it out through an initial public offering after building it up into a company with revenue of $200 million-$250 million, compared with $39 million last year, Mr McMurtrie said on Friday. 

“There might be a time when it is right to IPO,” Mr McMurtrie told AFR Weekend after the company’s annual meeting.

“Over time, three, four, five years ahead, PEXA will emerge to be doing other things in that broad property ecosystem. Many of the things PEXA’s able to do would have been probably more difficult to roll out in a public environment. Now we’ve got three long-term patient investors who are not too fussed about how long this takes.”

PEXA’s previous owners, which included Link, had been progressing towards a float but abandoned that plan on October 25. Mr McMurtrie, whose company is the largest shareholder in PEXA with a 44.2 per cent stake, said the original valuation of PEXA was too high, notwithstanding the “choppy” financial markets that prevailed at the time of the attempted bookbuild.

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“Had it come on the market at, say an original value of $1.8 billion to $2.1 billion, our assessment was that was a bit rich, even in a heady bull market,” Mr McMurtrie said. 

Link, of course, played the weaker market to its advantage in the race for PEXA, by tipping half of its pre-existing stake in the company into the planned IPO, making the fundraising target required by brokers Morgan Stanley and Macquarie Capital too large for the weak market to support.

“We paid fair value at this point in time but we see good ongoing growth,” he said.

No ‘hard landing’

Mr McMurtrie said he did not think ongoing weakness in the residential property market would affect PEXA’s revenue as the proportion of transactions as a share of housing stock – apart from the brief period of 1990-91 when interest rates soared to 18 per cent – was historically constant. 

“Even if property is going to be a bit soft, then you’ve got first home owners more able to buy now than there have been in the last five years,” he said. 

“We don’t expect there to be a hard landing and we expect that transaction volumes will continue pretty much at the current level.”

PEXA’s new owner also took a swing at NSW Finance Minister Victor Dominello’s demand this week for interoperability between the platform and other rival services that may come along. 

Mr McMurtrie said the property transaction chain was different from allowing consumers to transfer their mobile number between telephone providers. 

“I don’t have a clue what the minister means about interoperability in the context of PEXA,” he said, when asked about Mr Dominello’s comments. “If we had some idea I could help you.”

At the AGM on Friday, Link said chief financial officer John Hawkins was retiring but would remain its representative on the PEXA board. 

The registry services company suffered a 17 per cent vote against its remuneration report, after proxy advisers criticised the earnings per share hurdles set in the long-term incentive scheme for being too soft.

Mr McMurtrie dismissed the complaints. “We felt very strongly the technical arguments were not well-thought through and 83 per cent of our shareholders took the same view,” he said.

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Roger Federer beats Kevin Anderson to top group at ATP Finals

Federer first lifted the season-ending title in 2003 but the last of his six wins was in 2011

Six-time champion Roger Federer beat Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-3 to secure his place in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals for the 15th time.

Federer’s victory means he tops his group to boost his chances of avoiding world number one Novak Djokovic in the last four in London.

The Swiss, 37, looked out of sorts when he lost his first match on Sunday but bounced back with two successive wins.

South African Anderson had already won two matches to reach the semi-finals.

Top seed Djokovic is already through to the semi-finals and can clinch top spot in his group by beating Marin Cilic on Friday.

Alexander Zverev, John Isner and Cilic are battling for the other semi-final berth.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazilian partner Bruno Soares completed a clean sweep of wins in their doubles group by beating Henri Kontinen and John Peers 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 10-3.

Questions were asked about Federer’s form and state of mind after he lost to Kei Nishikori in straight sets on Sunday but he gave himself a chance of reaching the semi-finals by beating Dominic Thiem on Tuesday.

And after Thiem defeated Nishikori earlier on Thursday, the Swiss knew he needed to win only six games to join Wimbledon finalist Anderson in the semi-finals.

“I’m very happy, my first match was tough and I never got going, but with my back against the wall maybe it’s easier for me to play,” said Federer.

“Kevin’s had a great year, but it’s been a fun group and I’m very happy to be in the semis.”

Group Lleyton Hewitt
P W-L Sets Games
Roger Federer 3 2-1 4-2 33-25
Kevin Anderson 3 2-1 4-2 32-22
Dominic Thiem 3 1-2 2-4 26-30
Kei Nishikori 3 1-2 2-4 19-33

Federer had three break points on Anderson’s formidable serve in the seventh game of the first set and secured the break when the world number six double-faulted.

Surprisingly Federer shanked two shots to lose his serve in the next game but the Swiss broke again to love as Anderson temporarily lost his range.

Federer had to save three break points at 5-4 but held his serve to take the set – much to the delight of the majority of the fans inside the O2 Arena.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner looked back to near his best in the second set, playing nearer the baseline and moving his opponent around.

And Federer went on to get a small measure of revenge for his Wimbledon quarter-final defeat at the hands of Anderson by wrapping up victory in one hour and 16 minutes.

“These round-robin formats are not straightforward, we’re used to it being you lose, you leave, you don’t hang around,” added Federer, who is aiming to win the 100th title of his career.

“Maybe it was difficult for Kevin having already qualified, whereas with Thiem winning it was maybe easier for me.

“But I’m happy I’m still alive and hope I can play a good match the day after tomorrow.”

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Brexit: Theresa May braced for more cabinet resignations after day of chaos leaves deal facing Commons defeat

Theresa May is braced for further cabinet resignations that would spark a challenge to her premiership, after a day of drama that left her Brexit strategy on the verge of collapse.

Michael Gove was considering whether to quit, after apparently refusing to take the job of Brexit secretary – dramatically vacated by Dominic Raab – when the prime minister rejected his demands.

The environment secretary is believed to have called for Ms May’s draft agreement to be ripped up and renegotiated, and for the cancellation of the 25 November summit with the EU which is intended to seal the deal.

Mr Gove left a meeting with the prime minister without an appointment being made – with Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, also thought to be still considering quitting.

A defiant Ms May staged a press conference at which she vowed to fight any vote of no confidence in her, saying: “Am I going to see this through? Yes.”

Likening herself to the famously stubborn England batsman Geoffrey Boycott, her cricketing hero, she told reporters: “What do you know about Geoffrey Boycott? Geoffrey Boycott stuck to it and he got the runs in the end.”

Earlier, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leading Tory Brexiteer, announced he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the prime minister – creating an expectation that the trigger point of 48 letters would be reached.

However, the threshold was not breached, putting off a vote of no confidence by all 314 other Conservative MPs until Monday at the earliest.

Although Ms May is still expected to win such a contest, a large number of Tories rejecting her leadership – perhaps 100 – might still damage her fatally.

His position was rocked by seven resignations, with Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, quickly following Mr Raab out of the cabinet. Two junior ministers, two unpaid aides and a trade envoy also quit.

The resignation of Mr Gove – who backed the draft deal in Wednesday’s cabinet meeting – would almost certainly prompt sufficient letters to trigger the no-confidence vote.

Even without that challenge, Ms May’s hopes of success for the agreement appeared dead in the water after it was torn apart by all sides in the Commons chamber.

The pound plummeted losing 1.8 per cent of its value against the US dollar at 1.276 and falling 1.8 per cent to 1.127 euros.

When further resignations failed to materialise quickly, cabinet sources told The Independent other Brexiteers had been disappointed Mr Raab and Ms McVey had quit when they had.

One insider said: “Of course they respect their decision. But if you take the view that there might still be some opportunity to turn the dial, or even just get some clarity on things which are unclear, then it is too early to go.

“That point will come around the time the vote comes, but it’s not there yet.”

Mr Raab is said to have informed chief whip Julian Smith that he would quit after Wednesday night’s cabinet meeting.

Ms Mordaunt had a meeting with the prime minister herself, leaving in her ministerial car, scotching suggestions that she would resign in the immediate wake of the other walkouts.

Andrea Leadsom, the Commons leader, went to see her senior officials to talk through the fine detail of the withdrawal agreement – and announced she was staying.


The Independent has launched its #FinalSay campaign to demand that voters are given a voice on the final Brexit deal.

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How the tourism industry underpins illegal Israeli settlements

Occupied West Bank – Rows of Israeli flags mark the entrance to the Ahava Visitor Center a few hundred metres from the northwestern banks of the Dead Sea. 

Inside, the cosmetics manufacturer sells “With Love from Israel” skincare gift sets to the American, Russian and Korean tourist groups that arrive in buses every 10 minutes or so.

For the unsuspecting visitor, it is not easy to tell that one is no longer within the internationally recognised borders of Israel, but in the occupied West Bank, in an Israeli settlement, illegal under international law.

The same goes for nearby Qumran, a popular tourist attraction where a Bedouin shepherd once found the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

Notwithstanding it being situated in the West Bank, Israel now controls the site, which also has an entry marked by rows of Israeli flags and a sizeable gift shop filled with “I love Israel” souvenirs.

“I believe we are in Israel,” said Jimmy Small, a tourist from New York, when asked about his current location. 

Most other tourists at a tour bus car park in Qumran gave the same response.

The confusion is not that surprising, given the major travel companies’ brochures and websites.

An investigation by Al Jazeera of travel catalogues and itineraries found that 20 of the most popular travel agencies and booking sites are taking tourists shopping, dining or for an overnight stay in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. 

None of the companies informs potential consumers that they will be visiting an illegal settlement, and only six mention or imply that one will be outside Israeli territory.

Thomas Cook, Collette and On the Go Tours, for example, make stops at the Ahava Visitor Center without telling tourists they are leaving Israel. 

Saga Holidays describes a stopover and wine tasting in the Golan Heights settlement Katzrin as a visit to “the new Israeli town of Katzrin”. 

Booking.com offers rooms in “The Garden Suite Apartment”, which the website says is located in “Jerusalem (Israel)”, but the accommodation is situated in the Gilo settlement in the occupied West Bank.

The tourists ought to have a cause of action against the tour companies and claim compensation for having been fraudulently misled and exposed to criminal activity.

John Dugard, professor of international law and former UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights

In another case, the large travel agency GoEco, which describes itself as “a leading eco-tourism company” with a selection of “ethical volunteer projects abroad”, offers a two-to-eight week volunteer programme in the “Mountain Eco Lodge” in what is supposedly Israel.

According to GoEco, the lodge “sets an example of modern sustainable living” on “one of the highest peaks in Israel” in Nimrod, “a small Israeli town in the Golan Heights”.

It is not mentioned that Nimrod is an Israeli settlement, illegal under international law.

This information may seem even more crucial when considering that one of the main activities as a volunteer is construction work – “the rewarding experience of building structures from the ground up” – which means that the participants will directly contribute to the settlement’s construction.

According to John Dugard, professor of international law and former UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, the travel agencies’ customers are unknowingly “aiding and abetting” the crime of establishing illegal settlements.

“In theory, this exposes tourists to prosecution for having purchased illegal goods,” said Dugard, who added that although holidaymakers are not going to be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court for such an offence, travel agencies should be warning tourists that they are about to commit a crime.

“The tourists ought to have a cause of action against the tour companies and claim compensation for having been fraudulently misled and exposed to criminal activity,” Dugard said.

‘An effective way to reproduce the official Israeli narrative’

Over the past years, the Israeli government has invested heavily in building hotels and tourism development in West Bank settlements, and according to settler spokespersons, recent years have seen settlement tourism grow.

Earlier this year, a leaked EU Heads of Mission report warned that “tourist settlements” in occupied East Jerusalem were being used “as a political tool to modify the historical narrative and to support, legitimise and expand settlements”.

The conclusions are backed by Rami Khalil Isaac, a Palestinian senior lecturer at the Academy for Tourism at the Dutch NHTV Breda University, who has been studying tourism in the occupied Palestinian territories.

“Tourism is becoming an effective way to reproduce the official Israeli narrative. Many of these tours to settlements in the Golan Heights or the West Bank eventually serve to normalise these places being considered parts of Israel,” Isaac said.

In this photo on April 20, 2011, Israelis visit the Nahalat Binyamin visitors centre near the Jewish West Bank settlement of Psagot, near Ramallah, during the Passover holiday [File: Oded Balilty/AP Photo]

Palestinians, including Palestinian tour guides, are generally not allowed to access the tourist attractions that are developed as part of settlement projects. Concurrently, Israeli authorities and settler organisations are taking control of a growing amount of historical, archaeological and religious sites on occupied Palestinian land.

While Israeli tour operators can continue their excursions to the sites on occupied territory, Palestinian tour guides are mostly restricted from crossing from the West Bank into Jerusalem or Israel.

According to Brian Reeves of the Israeli NGO Peace Now, the locations where settler organisations establish tourist sites come to work as a “land grab”.

“Touristic settlements also attract Israeli domestic tourism, which works to cement in every day Israelis’ minds a need to forever hold on to the territory,” he said. 

Speaking in the shade of his souvenir stand in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, local shop-owner Assem Barakat emphasised that Israel is in control of all borders adjacent to the Palestinian territories.

Tourists are therefore most often travelling with companies operating from Israel – also when visiting West Bank locations such as Bethlehem.

“Many don’t even know that they are not in Israel when coming here. And others have been told to stay alert – that it can be dangerous to go here,” he said.

But by pretending that they are not visiting Palestine, the travel agencies are only repeating that same notion of the territory – that it is something to be scared of.

Rami Khalil Isaac, lecturer

The examination of travel brochures also shows that for 20 companies, including TUI and Trafalgar Travel, locations in occupied Palestinian territories are central to marketing campaigns, while depicting them as being part of Israel. 

For instance, the main photo on TUI’s website is from occupied East Jerusalem, while the headline about a round trip there is “Jerusalem and Bethlehem, Israel”, even though the international community does not recognise Israel’s annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, while Bethlehem is administered by the Palestinian Authority.

According to Isaac, the lecturer at the NHTV Breda University, tourist agencies may be reluctant to mention that they will be visiting Palestinian territories because the areas are known for conflict.

“But by pretending that they are not visiting Palestine, the travel agencies are only repeating that same notion of the territory – that it is something to be scared of,” he said.

Bookings website Airbnb has been criticised before for listing properties in settlements on occupied Palestinian land as being inside the state of Israel.

Responses

In 2010 and 2015, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned further publication of Israeli tourist campaigns which portrayed East Jerusalem as part of Israel. 

The 2015 verdict was later changed in a second investigation, as the watchdog group decided that the advert was not likely to mislead consumers “into taking a transactional decision that they would otherwise not have taken”.

The ASA told Al Jazeera that it cannot comment on cases that have not been through its complaints and investigations process.

After being contacted by Al Jazeera, On The Go Tours said it would remove the visit to the Ahava Visitor Centre from its Israel trip. 

Topdeck, Thomas Cook and Collette said they would correct their websites to ensure Palestinian Territories are accurately identified as part of the itinerary.

“We’re sorry that this element of the tour wasn’t previously made clear,” a Thomas Cook spokesman said. 

Thomas Cook, via its tour provider Collette, is however not altering its itinerary and will keep visiting the Ahava Visitor Center. 

Collette did not wish to comment on whether it would start informing guests that they would be visiting a settlement on their tours.

Riviera Travel admitted that its website did not provide the reader with the representation that it had originally intended, and said that it would commit to reviewing it.

Since being contacted by Al Jazeera, GoEco has removed The Mountain Eco Lodge from its website. In an email, its co-director said that it no longer works with the lodge.

In an email, Tripadvisor spokesman Brian Hoyt did not touch upon the company’s listings in settlements and said that it seeks “to provide geographical information in how we describe a property or landmark’s location that is both practical and consistent with other sources that travellers might use visiting those areas”.

TUI, Mercury Holidays, Explore Travel, TourRadar and the Israeli Government Tourist Office did not respond to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.

Despite several attempts, Al Jazeera also did not receive a response from: Virgin Vacations; Artisans of Leisure; Travel55, Trafalgar; Tours4fun; Gate1; Cosmos; Mayflower Cruises and Tours; Overseas Adventure Travels; Expedia; Booking.com; Travelocity, Trivago; Orbitz, Abercrombie & Kent; Titan Travel; Globus Journeys; Key Tours and Saga Holidays.


Travel agencies that visited Israeli settlements without informing customers: Thomas Cook, Virgin Vacations, Saga Holidays, Artisans of Leisure, Gate 1, Collette Tours, Overseas Adventure Travels, Travel 55, Explore Travel, On the Go Tours, GoEco, Key Tours,  Tours4fun.

Booking sites that offered accommodation without informing customers that they will be staying in settlements: Expedia, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, Travelocity, Trivago, Orbitz, TourRadar. 

Travel agencies that depicted occupied territories as Israel: Abercrombie & Kent, Thomas Cook, Virgin Vacations, Saga Holidays, Artisans of Leisure, TUI, Globus Journeys, Gate 1, Topdeck, Mercury Holidays, Riviera Travel, Titan Travel, Travel 55, Collette Tours, Trafalgar Travel, Cosmos, Key Tours, Mayflower Cruises and Tours, Overseas Adventure Travels, Tours4fun.

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Callum Wilson earns England debut goal against USA in Wayne Rooney’s final hurrah

This match was billed as a tribute to England’s past but what will stay in the memory longest were the glimpses of their glistening future.

This was not much of a football contest, but all the best football came in the hour of throat-clearing before Wayne Rooney came on. For once at Wembley, the support acts put on a better show than the headliner.

Of course the emotional focus of the night was all about Rooney. He got all of the applause and the love and respect that he deserved, before the game, when he came on and when he did a lap of the pitch at the end. And it was right that he got that, as the greatest English player of his generation. Rooney’s presence enhanced this evening, it did not diminish or devalue it.

And yet the 30 minutes when he was on the pitch was the least interesting part of the night. In a game that had almost slowed to walking pace by then, he jogged around much like the late-era Rooney we saw in his last few years in England. It felt as if everyone in the stadium was willing him to score, but it was not to be. Although when he made himself space to shoot with his right food in added time it felt as if he would, only for Brad Guzan to dive well to save.

That would have made sense of the whole evening, but instead we were left with a lower-key, selfless Rooney instead, the Rooney we have seen throughout this decade. The best moments of his cameo came in service to the team: a flick to Marcus Rashford, a chip to Trent Alexander-Arnold, a long ball to Ruben Loftus-Cheek. He even tracked one fast DeAndre Yedlin run all the way back into the England box. Without that crowning goal, it was his presence on the pitch, rather than anything he did on it, that mattered the most.

Southgate had insisted beforehand that he would only bring Rooney one once he had learned everything he needed to learn from this game. Which is for the best because once Rooney was on the pitch, he became the only focal point of the whole occasion. Every touch was cheered, and when everyone in the stadium only cares about one player then the game ceases to be football in quite the same way. That is why it was the football England played in the first hour, when they raced into a 2-0 lead, that meant the most.

Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed at right-back (Reuters)

This was the football that Rooney used to play, at his Manchester United peak at least 10 years ago. Fast, incisive, imaginative, England started to cut through a United States side who could hardly have made it easier for them. Almost every time England went forward they were through on goal, and what it lacked in competitive tension it made up for in low-stakes entertainment.

It helped that Southgate was able to pick Jadon Sancho, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard as his creative three causing havoc behind Callum Wilson up front. With Ben Chilwell and Trent Alexander-Arnold stretching the play wide, those three could tuck inside, swap positions and ask the US defenders to solve problems they had barely been presented with before.

Callum Wilson was brought down in the first half (AFP/Getty Images)

England had enough chances to take the lead, and should have had a penalty when Wilson was tripped by Brad Guzan. But it did not matter, and soon after they swept into the lead with a goal that was far more satisfying. Alli and Chilwell combined down the left to tee up Lingard, in just enough space on the edge of the box. One touch to set himself, the second to curl the ball over the goalkeeper’s dive, into the far top corner of the goal. Anyone who remembers Lingard’s goal against Panama in Nizhy Novgorod would be familiar with its arc. Guzan was not.

The second goal straight after was almost as good. Alli and Wilson were squeezed for space in the box but Sancho was good enough that he could take a touch and take his time rather than being rushed. He knew Alexander-Arnold was bounding forward on the overlap, which is more than Jorge Villafana and Timothy Weah had figured out. Sancho’s timing was perfect and Alexander-Arnold smacked the ball in.

Wayne Rooney came on for the final half-an-hour (Getty)

If there was any curiosity about how this game would end, it did not survive those two quick goals. The US had one good chance, when Christian Pulisic raced through but was blocked by Jordan Pickford bursting off his line. But that was almost their only attack and they barely threatened in the second half.

Soon enough the only question was when Rooney came on, and when he did, whether he would score or not. England did grab a third goal, as Wilson got on the end of Fabian Delph’s cross from the left to tuck in the ball at the near post. While fans were delighted for Wilson, and how much it meant to him, he was not the man they would have chosen to score.

England (4-2-3-1) Pickford (McCarthy, 45); Alexander-Arnold, Keane, Dunk, Chilwell (Dier, 58); Delph, Winks (Loftus-Cheek, 69); Sancho, Alli (Henderson, 58), Lingard (Rooney 58); Wilson (Rashford, 78).

USA (4-2-3-1) Guzan; Yedlin, Miazga, Brooks, Villafana; Trapp (Acosta, 69), McKennie (Lletget, 75); Pulisic, Green (Adams, 62), Weah (Saief, 75); Wood.

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