Making the trip out to Andorra on Saturday night with many expecting another routine display from the Three Lions, England cruised their way to a 5-0 romp at the Estadio Nacional.
Storming their way to the top spot in Group I and cruising their way to next year’s World Cup finals, Gareth Southgate’s side hardly had to get out of second gear in what was a one-way contest.
Managing to make an immediate return to winning ways following last month’s last-gasp 1-1 draw away in Poland, goals from Ben Chilwell, Bukayo Saka, Tammy Abraham, James Ward-Prowse, and Jack Grealish secured a rampant display on the road.
Backed by almost 1000 travelling fans on Saturday night, we have taken a look at some of the major talking points.
A routine night for England
Making it clear that he was far from pleased to see Poland snatch an injury-time equaliser last month, Southgate certainly got the response that he would have been hoping for at the Estadio Nacional.
Despite much being made of Andorra’s artificial pitch, the Three Lions were in complete control from the opening whistle and Southgate’s decision to make nine changes from their 1-1 draw against Poland was a correct one.
Watching his side open the scoring with 17 minutes on the clock, the England boss was quick to praise his youthful squad’s display on Saturday night.
Calling on his side to show no signs of complacency after recently going up to third in the FIFA rankings, their 5-0 romp only underlined why England have cemented their spot as a genuine European powerhouse.
Making it clear that they’re fully focused after suffering heartbreak at Wembley over the summer, Southgate would have been pleased to see his side come through an Andorran outfit that offered little other than game defence.
With five separate goalscorers and another clean sheet to their name, it really was a perfect Saturday night for the Three Lions.
Fringe players take their chance
With Southgate electing to make nine changes and leave the likes of Harry Kane on the bench, a host of England’s fringe players really managed to pounce on their chance to stake a claim.
Recalling Tammy Abraham to the set-up earlier in the week following his immediate impact at Roma, the former Chelsea ace done an impressive job of leading England’s line.
A constant threat to a heavily defensive Andorra side, the 24-year-old eventually managed to find the net as he guided home a fantastic cross from Manchester United’s Jadon Sancho.
While the Premier League’s latest superstar might have struggled since making the move to Old Trafford, Sancho was a standout performer, alongside Phil Foden who completely controlled proceedings.
With Ben Chilwell opening the scoring midway through the first-half, the Chelsea left-back has certainly enjoyed what has been a much-needed boost over the past couple of weeks.
Thundering home following Sancho’s smart layoff, Bukayo Saka’s strike five minutes before the break pretty much wrapped up three points for England before they headed down the tunnel.
Much like Abraham, James Ward-Prowse was another late arrival to the Three Lions’ squad that managed to bag himself a rare international goal on Saturday.
Despite seeing his penalty saved by Andorra keeper Josep Gómes late into the second-half, the Southampton skipper topped off what was an eye-catching display as he managed to bundle the rebound in with his left foot.
With time left on the clock for Jack Grealish to record his first international goal after some wonderful distribution from Sam Johnstone, England’s fringe stars only underlined just how stacked Southgate’s squad is.
Landing that 5-0 romp on Saturday, there is no doubt that England will simply be looking to carry on that momentum when they’re next seen at Wembley in a few days time.
Handed the chance to potentially wrap up their spot as Group I winners, Southgate’s men will welcome Hungary to north London in a contest where they will be looking to lay down another marker.
Now extending their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers to a staggering 28-match run, it is hard to see anyone causing a dent in England’s charge to Qatar 408 days time.
As for Andorra, knowing that they have long since seen any chance of securing a shock route out of Group I go up in smoke, Saturday’s hosts will be hoping to end their campaign with at least a minor flurry.
Expectedly blown away by their heavyweight guests at the Estadio Nacional, the Tricolors should be smelling a golden chance on their travels in midweek.
Simply in a battle to avoid lifting the wooden spoon in Group I, Andorra will make the trip out to European whipping boys San Marino on Tuesday night.
Andorra: Gomes Moreira (6), Rubio Gómez (4), Garcia Gonzalez (4), Vales Carus (3), Llovera González–Adrio (4), García Renom (3), Martínez Alejo (3), Rebés Ruiz (3), Vieira de Vasconcelos (4), Rubio Gómez (3), Sánchez Alburquerque (3)
Subs: Lima Solà (3), García Miramontes (3), Aláez Peña (3), Cervós Moro (3), Fernández Betriu (3)
England: Johnstone (8), Trippier (7), Stones (7), Coady (7), Chilwell (8), Lingard (6), Ward-Prowse (7.5), Foden (9), Saka (7), Abraham (8), Sancho (8)
Subs: Grealish (8), Watkins (6), Mount (7), Tomori (7)
Goals: Chilwell 17, Saka 40′, Abraham 59′, Ward-Prowse 79′, Grealish 86′
Yellow Cards: Andorra: Rebés Ruiz, Martínez Alejo – England: Coady, Sancho, Stones
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Kateryna Monzul
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