UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers: 3 reasons why England beat Montenegro
In a thoroughly one-sided game at Wembley, England thumped Montenegro 7-0 to secure their place at next summer’s UEFA Euro 2020 tournament. The game was somewhat of a special occasion – the 1000th international played by England – and Gareth Southgate’s men delivered the goods in style.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – making his first international appearance since June 2017 – opened the scoring after just 11 minutes, and by the time the whistle blew for half-time, the Three Lions were 5-0 up, with captain Harry Kane helping himself to a hat-trick in just under 20 minutes.
The action slowed down somewhat in the second half, but England were still able to add another two goals – the first a bizarre own goal, and the second from Chelsea’s in-form striker Tammy Abraham – his first at senior international level.
Here are 3 reasons why England beat Montenegro.
#1 England moved through the gears quickly
The word coming into tonight’s match was that Gareth Southgate had instructed his players to press Montenegro hard and go for goals from the off, and judging by what we saw on the pitch the players had clearly taken the advice on board.
England were positive from kick-off, moving the ball quickly from the midfield to the front-line and switching the play from left to right in order to put the Montenegrin defence under as much pressure as possible.
Marcus Rashford in particular was simply electric, as Montenegro’s defence couldn’t handle his pace at all, while the delivery of both Ben Chilwell and Trent Alexander-Arnold was fantastic throughout the game; Leicester’s Chilwell somehow ended the match with 3 assists to his name.
Perhaps key to the whole operation though was Southgate’s midfield duo of Harry Winks and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Too many times as of late – even during the current impressive qualifying campaign – England’s midfield has looked stodgy, with the likes of Jordan Henderson and Declan Rice preferring safe passes either sideways or backwards rather than looking to open a defence up.
That wasn’t the case tonight as both Winks and Chamberlain were able to not just retain the ball, but also create plenty of attacking moves with swift, incisive passing. Whether this partnership would work against a better team remains to be seen – neither man is a classic holding midfielder – but it should definitely give Southgate food for thought over the next couple of days.