Gareth Southgate got his reign as England caretaker boss off to an easy 2-0 win against Malta at Wembley on Saturday evening.
Not surprisingly, the visitors offered little in the way of an attacking threat, leaving England with the chance to rack up a hefty score. However, the Three Lions could only manager two goals, with the likes of Dele Alli, Theo Walcott, Wayne Rooney and Jesse Lingard all thwarted by Maltese ‘keeper Andrew Hogg.
One negative for Southgate and co. in the first-half was a hamstring injury for Ryan Bertrand, with the Southampton full-back replaced, on 19 minutes, by Danny Rose.
Wayne Rooney was deployed in a deep role against the Maltese, but the Man Utd star was lucky not to pick up a booking for a poor studs-up challenge. While the England captain also found himself on the wrong end of a cheeky nutmeg.
Highlight of the Night, this Rooney nutmegpic.twitter.com/XORlSAg6Nj
— Rappid Rashford (@RappidRashford) October 8, 2016
It was Daniel Sturridge who would open the scoring for the hosts on 29 minutes, with the Liverpool striker deftly heading home from team-mate Jordan Henderson’s fine cross.
Ali doubled England’s advantage just before half-time, netted from close-range against the side ranked 176th in the world.
After the break, Man Utd starlet Marcus Rashford was sent on for Walcott before Jamie Vardy replace Sturridge. However, there would be no more goals in a game which, due to the poor quality of the opposition, would tell us little about the Three Lions.
Overall, it was an acceptable, if unremarkable, start to Southgate’s tenure although in what was a stroll at Wembley, any deeper analysis of the display is rather pointless.