Mission accomplished for Southgate and England

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England 7-0 Montenegro – Reaction

GARETH SOUTHGATE reflected positively upon his England sides efficient qualification for Euro 2020 having witnessed them dismantle Montenegro at Wembley Stadium.

A Harry Kane hat-trick coupled with goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marcus Rashford handed the Three Lions 5-0 advantage at the break. Then an own-goal from Aleksandar Sofranac along with a Tammy Abraham strike sealed the deal as Southgate’s men took their goal tally during this qualifying campaign to 33 from just seven games.

“Yes, I think the quality of our attacking play – first-half – was excellent,” the England chief enthused.

“It’s been a group that we expected to win but we’ve totally taken teams apart and matches in the past have been problematic for England teams where teams have defended deep in numbers and been stubborn because of our speed, movement, speed of ball circulation, we’ve carved those teams apart and added, of course, to the quality of the individual players that we’ve got, both on the pitch tonight and the players that have played earlier in the campaign.

“So, we knew we had a team tonight right the way through who would be really comfortable with the ball. Speed, athleticism, two high midfield players who can score goals as well and they did that in the first half and they’d killed the game within 25 minutes really.”

Harry Kane’s treble took him past Alan Shearer, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney in the all-time honours list and Southgate was quick to heap praise on his skipper following another ruthless display in front of goal.

“Somebody mentioned some of the names that he’s gone past tonight which will be very special for him,” he continued.

“He’s an incredible goalscorer, that’s the obvious part of his game, but the link play – he’s a number 9 that can play and link as an outstanding (number) 10 as well.

“So, not only does he lead the line for us, provide the goal threat, but also provide opportunities for others and I’ve said before, what an unselfish player he is. But of course, when those opportunities are there he’s absolutely ruthless.”

The England manager was less impressed with sections of the Wembley crowd that chose to boo Joe Gomes – who had been involved in a training ground bust-up with Raheem Sterling – when he arrived as a second-half substitute. Southgate had dealt with the issue, leaving the Manchester City player out of the starting line-up and believed the matter was closed.

“I don’t know what more I could’ve said,” he explained.

Again, first and foremost, the whole dressing room are disappointed with it because the dressing room are tight, every one of them.

“Contrary to what I’m told has been said in various quarters, all of the players are united, the whole thing was put to bed the other day. Joe had done absolutely nothing wrong.

“No England player should ever be booed when they’re wearing the shirt, ever. I don’t get it. So, all of the players are particularly disappointed with that, and the reason that I wanted to get Joe on the pitch tonight was that he’s been with us in September and October and we’ve not got him into the games.

“Also, I know I’m going to start Raheem on Sunday and get him back onto the pitch as well because it was important for both of them to get back on the field with England and show everybody that we’re all in this now.

“So, yes, I’m hugely disappointed for him, but he’s got the support of all of us – the whole dressing room, totally united. And we’ll make sure we’re there for him.”

Southgate waxed lyrical about Ben Chilwell – the Leicester City man had a hand in several of the England goals and provided a stylish performance from fullback.

“I think both fullbacks’ use of the ball tonight was outstanding and Ben – I liked the hunger in his game – the enthusiasm to get forward.

“The whole team pressed well but he also pressed well from that fullback position, got into overlaps, his quality of delivery was excellent. So, he started the season a little bit sticky following a bit of an injury but he’s really in the flow of his game now and you can see the confidence that he’s had with Leicester – he brought into tonight’s game.”

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]

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