Jesse Lingard, Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka all got on the scoresheet as England comfortably saw off Andorra at Wembley to keep up their 100 per cent qualifying record
England comfortably saw off Andorra at Wembley to keep up their 100 per cent record in qualifying.
Jesse Lingard grabbed two of his side’s four as they warmed up in the best possible fashion for their clash with Poland.
The game in Warsaw on Wednesday is expected to be England’s most challenging and a host of regular players were rested by Gareth Southgate.
It allowed for some experimentation with Trent Alexander-Arnold coming into midfield and Patrick Bamford earning his first cap.
England bought the cavalry on midway through the second-half and were able to pull away from their opponents, who remained in the game at 1-0, despite the hosts’ dominance.
Harry Kane drew level with Michael Owen’s goal total as he converted from the spot and birthday boy Bukayo Saka also notched.
Here are five talking points from Wembley.
1 Patience is key
In qualifying games like this its often the way you go about gaining the three points that people take more notice of.
Andorra, ranked 156th in the world, were never going to genuinely trouble the Three Lions.
As a result it becomes a test of how dominant you can be throughout the 90 minutes, like it is against someone like San Marino.
Much like in midweek, England looked like they were going to come away with a gritty, tight win.
But as they did three days ago, they added some stardust to the result late on, eventually tiring out their opponents.
Southgate’s side have dominated possession in recent games and that has been crucial in breaking down their opponents, as was again the case.
Lower ranked nations are often content to sit in and make things difficult, so performing like England have in recent games can only be a plus.
2 A welcome sight
The unsavoury scenes from Thursday overshadowed an impressive win in Hungary.
Images of acts of defiance from likes of Declan Rice and Jack Grealish have done the rounds in recent days and bought with them a sense of national pride.
Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham were allegedly subject to racist chants, but on Sunday it was a very different vibe.
England, as they always do, took the knee at Wembley.
They were joined in doing so by the Andorran players as a rapturous applause reverberated around the stadium.
This is what we should be aspiring for.
3 Trent’s midfield run out
The debate has rambled on for sometime – Is Alexander-Arnold better utilised in midfield, especially given the options available to England at right-back.
It is from out wide that he’s so effective for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp has given no indication that he’ll change his position.
With England though Southgate clearly felt it was an experiment worth trying. It should be noted that Alexander-Arnold as a midfielder deserves more than a single qualifier against Andorra before any verdict is passed.
Nevertheless, his influence on proceedings wasn’t what it usually is. His best piece of play in fact came when he dropped into the right-back slot to fizz a long diagonal to Jude Bellingham.
On this evidence alone, stick to what you know, and eventually England did with Reece James swapping roles with Alexander-Arnold in the second-half.
4 Lingard’s uncertain future
The Manchester United midfielder may well rue his decision to stay at Old Trafford.
It was his lack of minutes, and as a result, form, that saw him dropped from the England squad in the past and he may again have that problem.
The shame for Lingard is that he seems more than capable of cutting it at international level with his two-goal display grabbing the headlines.
We saw the best of the midfielder last year at West Ham, but opportunities may be few and far between at United this term.
Southgate has often said he needs plays playing if they are to be selected and that could be Lingard’s undoing.
5 Bamford’s missed opportunity
Plenty doubted whether he’d cut it in the Premier League 12 months ago, now he’s playing for England.
Bamford has been able to thrive in a Leeds system that gets the best out of him.
He scored 17 times last term, more than he managed in the Championship with the Whites, and was finally rewarded by a call-up.
Admittedly he came up against relatively modest opponents and finds himself behind several names in the pecking order.
Failing to find the net will be a frustration, especially given the competition for places behind Harry Kane.