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Euro 2020 qualifiers: 3 reasons why England beat Montenegro

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Top 5 / Top 10
26 Mar 2019, 07:38 IST

England impressed again in a 5-1 victory over Montenegro tonight
England impressed again in a 5-1 victory over Montenegro tonight

After dispatching of the Czech Republic 5-0 at Wembley on Friday, England travelled to Montenegro tonight to play what looked like a potential banana skin of a Euro 2020 qualifying match.

It looked sticky when the hosts took the lead through Marko Vesovic after 17 minutes, but Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions were behind for just 13 minutes before Michael Keane headed an equaliser home.

A goal made in Chelsea – Ross Barkley poking home from a Callum Hudson-Odoi cross/shot – put England ahead just 8 minutes later and from there the game was a rout, as Southgate’s men ended up putting 5 past Montenegro to hit 10 goals in their past 2 games.

Here are 3 reasons why England beat Montenegro.

#1 England made their possession count

England's 73% possession led to 5 goals, including a brace for Ross Barkley
England's 73% possession led to 5 goals, including a brace for Ross Barkley

One of the biggest criticisms of possession-based football is that teams get sucked into passing and keeping the ball without actually going anywhere, and in the past England have definitely been guilty of that.

Remember we’re less than two years removed from dull games like England’s 1-0 wins over Slovenia and Lithuania, games that saw the Three Lions dominate possession but do very little with it.

That certainly wasn’t the case tonight. Not only did England have the lion’s share of the ball – 73% possession once the final whistle blew – but they made it count by carving the Montenegrin defence up on numerous occasions to set up their goals and also by consistently stealing the ball back from their opponents whenever it was lost in the centre of the pitch.

Using their newer 4-3-3 formation that Southgate introduced in the UEFA Nations League games last autumn, not only are England able to boss possession against smaller sides like Montenegro, but they’re now turning that possession into goals, something that they seemed to struggle with in the past.

It’ll make for far easier qualification games against minnows, as we’ve seen in the last couple of days – and it makes for better watching for the fans too.

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