It got here after the guests — who should win in Melbourne — had been rocked by 4 optimistic Covid circumstances of their camp, though no gamers had been amongst them.
Australia had been all out for 267, incomes an 82-run lead on England’s first-innings 185 on an MCG pitch that was nonetheless providing lots for the bowlers.
Marcus Harris top-scored with a battling 76 towards a harmful English assault led by veteran Jimmy Anderson, who was at his fearsome greatest with 4-33 off 23 overs.
After heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, England should win to maintain the five-Check collection alive, with Australia solely needing a draw to retain the urn as holders.
However confronted with surviving the ultimate hour towards a revvm,ed-up Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, England collapsed once more, slumping to 31 for 4 on the shut.
Struggling opener Zak Crawley by no means appeared snug and after dodging 15 balls he was caught by wicketkeeper Alex Carey for 5 off Starc.
Dawid Malan got here in however extremely was out the primary ball to Starc lbw after an unsuccessful overview, then Scott Boland ruined Haseeb Hameed’s day on seven, with Carey gloving an edge.
Fired up, Boland bowled Jack Leach with out scoring two balls to go away skipper Joe Root unbeaten on 12 and Ben Stokes on two — and England in serious trouble.
England earlier took their probabilities with the important thing wickets of Marnus Labuschagne (1) and Steve Smith (16), together with nightwatchman Nathan Lyon, earlier than lunch.
Harris (76) and Travis Head (27) surrendered within the second session earlier than England mopped up the remainder.
Australia resumed on 61 for one with the maligned Harris, who began on 20, underneath strain after a poor collection up to now.
However he held on grimly as Australian wickets tumbled round him to repay the religion of coach Justin Langer by citing solely his third 50 in 13 Assessments, and his first in two years.
He then fell on 76 with the good Anderson attractive an edge that Root took at slip.
Head, who made a swashbuckling 152 on the first Check in Brisbane, compiled a handsome 27 earlier than flailing at a probing Ollie Robinson ball, additionally caught by Root to snap a 60-run stand with Harris.
Play started half an hour late after Covid drama within the England camp, with the staff compelled to bear pressing speedy antigen checks as they had been about to go away for the MCG.
All gamers got here again unfavorable, however two assist employees and two members of the family examined optimistic.
Coronavirus impacted the second Check at Adelaide with Australian captain Cummins dominated out simply earlier than the beginning for being in shut contact with a optimistic Covid-19 case.
When play began, Lyon did not final, hitting 10 earlier than prodding at a full-length Robinson supply to Jos Buttler behind the stumps.
Harris smacked an early boundary off Anderson, however was cautious. He survived a overview choice on 36 after being given out lbw and a troublesome stumping on 63 earlier than his luck lastly ran out.
Labuschagne, the brand new primary Check batsman, had a uncommon failure, undone by the tempo of Mark Wooden, edging to Root on one in a large second for a resurgent England.
Harris was joined by the often dependable Smith, who made 16 earlier than being bowled by Anderson to go away the match finely poised.
Head additionally succumbed to the secure palms of Root, off Robinson, then Leach trapped Cameron Inexperienced lbw for 17.
Stokes eliminated Carey, additionally for 17, earlier than late cameos from Cummins and Starc added priceless additional runs.