Gareth Southgate has reflected on England’s 4-0 win against Andorra on Sunday, praising his side for performing well under “difficult” circumstances.
Jesse Lingard (x2), Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka were on the scoresheet in a match where the Three Lions enjoyed 88% possession.
Returning to Wembley for the first time since losing the final of Euro 2020, Southgate named a completely different starting XI to the one which won 4-0 in Hungary on Thursday.
Southgate handed a debut to birthday boy Patrick Bamford as he led the line with Saka and Lingard.
And the sweeping changes made it “difficult” for his team to perform together, the former defender claimed.
“It is difficult for the team that we picked. They have not had as many matches together as a group and they are playing against a team that really know how to frustrate.
“All the goals in their matches come late so you have to keep moving the ball, keep being patient. It was not an easy task we gave them, especially for our younger players.”
Saka had a terrific performance, scoring one and assisting both of Lingard’s goals in his first match at Wembley since missing the final penalty of their Euro 2020 shootout loss to Italy.
“He got a fabulous reception, before the game, during the game,” Southgate said about the Arsenal winger.
“You can see how popular he is with the rest of the team as well.
“I hope it is closure but I don’t think there’s a player in that dressing room who doesn’t think positively about what he did all summer.”
And Saka – who also celebrated his birthday – has described Sunday’s match as the “perfect birthday present”.
“It was the perfect birthday present for me.
“I am really happy with the reception everyone gave me. It really shows how proud they are of me and I think that meant a lot for me and it made me want to give my all.
“It really made a difference. Even now, I can hear so many fans chanting my name. It means everything. It makes me believe that everyone supports me through different things.
“This is what I dreamed about. Playing at Wembley in front of a full crowd and my family, scoring on my 20th birthday. I am really happy.”