England had a comfortable, predictable victory over Andorra at Wembley as Qatar’s easy path to the World Cup next year continued with their fifth consecutive win in their qualifying group. Manager Gareth Southgate made 11 changes to a team that won 4-0 in Hungary on Wednesday while preparing for possibly the toughest Test in European Group I in Poland.
Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford made his debut but failed to find the net in the usual one-sided encounter against Andorra, although the practice to limit the damage until the final 20 minutes was relatively successful. Jesse Lingard gave England the lead after 18 minutes with a left-footed shot, but Christian Garcia fouled Mason Mount on the penalty spot when Harry Kane scored the 40th goal in place of Bamford.
Andorra inevitably tired and Lingard got England second and third with a low shot that avoided the grasp of Andorra’s goalkeeper Gomes. And in a moment he greeted with genuine joy around Wembley, Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka, whose last Wembley experience was missing the decisive punishment in England’s final defeat to Italy at Euro 2020, marked its 20th anniversary from the end.
England’s performances individually and as a team should be shaped in the context of the Andorran opposition which is currently ranked between New Caledonia and the Dominican Republic in 156th place in the FIFA rankings. However, what is certainly beyond contention is that England has a real rising star in their ranks in Borussia Dortmund’s 18-year-old Jude Bellingham.
Coming to prominence in Birmingham, Bellingham was picked up as a young man for a remarkable career and has since done nothing to change the wider view that England has an artist of the highest stature on their hands. Lingard’s chances at Manchester United this season may be limited, but his brilliant and easy-going presence, with two goals, has rewarded Southgate’s belief that he can make a significant contribution to England’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
And a moment of true climax came late when Saka went home to make England’s victory even more certain. Saka was devastated when he missed the final penalty in the attack, as England lost the Euro 2020 final at Wembley in July and was immediately subject to shameful racist abuse.
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