When the final whistle blew, there was one tiny little bright star in the England firmament. Reece James had a blinder at right-back. So, naturally, he marched up to the referee, gave him a mouthful over God knows what and was sent-off.
So that made two of them. Harry Maguire was the first. There have only been 18 dismissals in the history of England’s senior team – and 11.11 per cent of them came last night. What a shambles it was.
Not just the defeat, but its manner. Going down to ten men due to two pieces of utterly reckless play by Maguire. The penalty conceded after poor defending by Kyle Walker and confusion added to the mix, courtesy of the increasingly erratic Jordan Pickford.
And then the debacle at the end, James confronting referee Jesus Gil Manzano of Spain, and becoming the second man staring at a brandished red card. Gareth Southgate looked like he might have gone earlier in the game, too, when Manzano came over and gave him a stern-faced lecture. The indiscipline crept into all areas. It was a very poor night for many.
And for one man in particular. Unlike James, Maguire did not even have the succour of a decent display to soften the blow of the red card. The sad reality these days is that his name appears far too often in sentences that contain the word shambles.
Manchester United defensive shambles; England defensive shambles. And there is Maguire, the most expensive defender in the world, increasingly hapless, architect of his downfall.
Bouncing onto international duty on the back of a 6-1 home defeat for Manchester United by Tottenham, Maguire was sent off here after 31 minutes in what swiftly became three minutes of game-changing calamity for England.
He didn’t start well, either, booked after just five minutes for a nasty tackle on Denmark’s Yussuf Poulsen. Maguire dived in and caught Poulsen late and high, quite a savage misjudgement.
It was arguably more than a yellow, but just less than a red. Deep orange. Unable to produce a card of the right colour, referee Manzano opted for a booking. So it was foolishness in the extreme later in the half when Maguire tried to correct a mistake by diving in rashly a second time.
There was scant mitigation for this one. It was a dreadful first touch by Maguire, not under any great pressure, the ball bouncing off him and falling invitingly towards Kasper Dolberg, who scented a break on goal.
Maguire tried to recover, too desperately, too clumsily, throwing himself into the tackle again, leading leg extended. He clipped the ball but his follow through cleaned the lively Dolberg out – he would be substituted soon after from the injury, so there is no suggestion of exaggeration – and instantly Manzano was reaching for his cards.
Maguire had the staple crack at feigned innocence and protest, but you could tell his heart wasn’t in it. He knew this one was on him, the 17th red card for an England senior player entirely justified.
It doesn’t get any easier, by the way. Poulsen, the man who was too quick for him early on, plays for Manchester United’s Champions League group opponents, RB Leipzig.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles was to be sacrificed as England reorganised, with Tyrone Mings introduced, but before that could happen Gareth Southgate’s night got significantly worse. Another shambles unfolded.
Walker failed to deal with a relatively tame ball up, Thomas Delaney skipping around the vicinity as he tried to bring it under control.
For some reason, Pickford saw this as an opportunity to involve himself in the play. Why, who knows? Walker didn’t have the ball under control, but neither did Delaney.
Pickford’s arrival on the scene merely added to the sense of panic, made worse by the fact the goalkeeper couldn’t get to the ball either. Scrambling, Walker contrived to foul Delaney. Maybe.
It didn’t look much – indeed, first impressions suggested handball as much as contact, although replays confirmed not – but Delaney fell and Manzano pointed to the spot.