The tourists posted 305-6 from their 50 overs thanks to a vital seventh-wicket partnership between Tasmanian wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh which yielded 112 runs, while England leg-spinner Adil Rashid claimed 4-59.
Surrey’s Jason Roy top scored for the hosts in reply with 67 as the recalled James Taylor amassed 49 before a disturbing collapse saw world champions Australia surge home in some comfort to take a 1-0 series lead.
England are bidding to maintain their post-World Cup one-day revival, a recovery anchored on a relentless commitment to attacking cricket, although Morgan insisted defeat had posed questions which need answering before tomorrow’s clash at Lord’s.
“It’s not a major setback. Australia are a very strong side and we’ll have to play very well to beat them,” said Morgan.
“This was an opportunity that’s gone amiss but we’re certainly looking forward to Lord’s and another opportunity to play world champions.
“I think it was lost in the 10-15 overs in the middle of the chase where Australia bowled pretty well but I thought if we came out of that period unscathed we would have chased it down quite easily.
“We got off to a fantastic start. Jason Roy and Alex Hales set the tone early and when we get off to a start like that we should be chasing down 305. We’re a better side than we showed.”
England failed to decimate Australia after reducing their rivals to 193-6 and conceded 93 runs off the final 10 overs.
“You can always do things differently. We’ll look back at our plans and our execution of them and have a look at replays and try and improve those for Lord’s,” added Morgan.
Australian openers David Warner and Joe Burns, who struck 59 and 44 respectively, put on 76 for the first wicket before captain Steve Smith also added 44, while all three batsmen, together with George Bailey, perished to Rashid.
A mid-innings stumble, which saw Australia lose four wickets for 29 runs in the space of six overs, was arrested by Wade’s 50-ball 71 and a knock of 40 by all-rounder Marsh.
Like Australia, England’s openers fired as Roy and Hales put on 70, with the former reaching his maiden one-day international half-century before falling for 67. Taylor picked up the baton alongside Morgan although neither converted starts into a defining innings. Any momentum was sucked out of the reply as three wickets – Morgan, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes – fell with the score on 194, while late glimpses of resistance from Moeen Ali and Rashid proved a false dawn.