Eng­land re­vived by Ster­ling and “lucky gen­eral” South­gate

World Soccer - - From The Editor - Brian GLANVILLE

Eng­land’s bold and largely un­ex­pected win in Spain has re­sus­ci­tated the team, given credit to its man­ager and sug­gested a far brighter fu­ture than might have been en­vis­aged even af­ter a bet­ter than ex­pected World Cup.

Napoleon, it is said, when it was sug­gested that one of his gen­er­als be pro­moted to mar­shal, would al­ways ask: “Is he lucky?” And it might be ar­gued that in Seville at least, Gareth South­gate was lucky.

Lucky in as much as Ra­heem Ster­ling, who for all his un­ques­tioned tal­ents had not scored for Eng­land since Oc­to­ber 2015, pro­ceeded to score twice.

It had surely been some­thing of a gam­ble to choose him, given the elec­tric form shown as a late sub­sti­tute in Croa­tia by 18-year-old Jadon San­cho, who has been spark­ing in the Bun­desliga. But South­gate stuck in hope to Ster­ling, who re­warded him with two splen­did strikes against the Span­ish.

Es­sen­tially a gam­ble which paid off, I sup­pose you could say that had it not done so then San­cho could al­ways have been brought on as a sub­sti­tute. In the event, he wasn’t needed, though it is good to have him in prospect for many a fu­ture game to come.

Over­all, the team sur­passed it­self in Spain, not only col­lec­tively but at an in­di­vid­ual level.

Mar­cus Rash­ford, whose fin­ish­ing had been so awry pre­vi­ously in Croa­tia, was sud­denly and im­pres­sively ef­fec­tive,

scor­ing one goal in style and mak­ing an­other. Jor­dan Hen­der­son and John Stones, both con­vinc­ing in Croa­tia but sus­pended in Spain, were not missed.

At cen­tre-back, Joe Gomez made an un­cer­tain start in Seville but set­tled down to be a dom­i­nant force. Any doubts one had about Ross Barkley were em­phat­i­cally laid to rest as his in­spired pass paved the way to Eng­land’s third goal.

Harry Kane may not have scored but was cru­cially in­volved in two of the Eng­land goals and has plainly re­cov­ered the form which left him in the lat­ter stages of the World Cup. Harry Winks sur­passed him­self in mid­field, while Ben Chilwell as­serted him­self at left-back.

There wasn’t a sin­gle player who did not emerge with great credit. This was break­away foot­ball at its best and when the 4-3-3 was var­ied de­fen­sively late in the game, that sys­tem worked too, un­der abun­dant pres­sure.

The team sur­passed it­self in Spain, not only col­lec­tively but at an in­di­vid­ual level

Im­pres­sive...Ra­heem Ster­ling gets Eng­land’s open­ing goal in the 3-2 vic­tory in Spain

For­tu­nate...Gareth South­gate

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