The Three Lions valiantly roar as the road to Qatar 2022 begins on a high
European Qualifiers for the World Cup. Three Matchdays. Three Victories.
Yes, England began their pursuit to make a place and name in the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar with much valor.
Gareth Southgate and his men not only beat but decimated their opponents in the first two games against San Marino and Albania. The third contest against Poland was more competitive, but the outcome was still the same.
With last night’s win against the Polish, England have now triumphed in four games on the bounce with their last defeat coming at the hands of European rivals, Belgium in the 2020-21 Nations League.
Also, with this accomplishment, Gareth Southgate’s impressive managerial record soared further with 32 wins from 52 games contested, 10 draws and 10 downward spirals. A win percentage of 61.5%.
So, without further ado, lets look at how the Three Lions made each of these three matches a triumphant feat.
Matchday 1 – England 5 – 0 San Marino
England began their World Cup qualification against a lowly-ranked San Marino at Wembley.
Number 4 in the FIFA rankings played number 210.
Yes, and as expected this was a one-sided affair with the young English side smashing five in the back of the San Marino net.
James Ward-Prowse opened the scoring for the home team, followed by two goals from the young Evertonian forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin, a solitary one from the ever-reliable Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling and a rather impressive late curl from Ollie Watkins.
What was most impressive for me in this fixture was how we witnessed the depth in English football when regulars like the mighty Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford were rested.
Certainly, exposure in the Premier League is paying dividends for expanding a national pool of immense talent.
Matchday 2 – Albania 0 – 2 England
On Matchday 2, England travelled to Albania and conquered the South East European nation with much ease.
The current king of English football, Harry Kane, opened the scoring for the Three Lions in the 38th minute with a deft header in from a Luke Shaw cross.
The Chelsea sensation, Mason Mount made it two for England in the 63rd minute with a fine assist from Harry Kane as the Blues’ man easily put the ball past the Albanian keeper.
A well-deserved win for England.
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Matchday 3 – England 2 – 1 Poland
Poland travelled to Wembley without their marquee man, Robert Lewandowski, who unfortunately was side-lined with a knee injury. Gareth Southgate made just one change to his starting XI from the Albania game, with Ben Chilwell in for Luke Shaw.
Maybe signs that in all probability he knows what his final XI for Euro 2020, scheduled later this year would be.
The Three Lions opened the scoring in just the 19th minute, again through their charismatic forward and captain. Harry Kane, who scored his 34th international goal, made no mistake in converting a well-earned penalty by compatriot, Raheem Sterling.
Poland bounced back in the 58th minute as Jakub Moder equalised for The White and Reds after he was literally gifted the ball by John Stones who made a school boy error.
Minutes before the final 90, Harry Maguire fired in the winner for England from a John Stones effort who more than salvaged his earlier fiasco.
England were lucky to have survived a Polish scare.
Finally, are we seeing an English resurgence?
Well, as an England national team faithful, I would certainly say a resounding yes.
After being the perenial underachievers in world football for decades, England are finally showing their true metal as semifinalists in the last World Cup edition and coming number three in the inaugural edition of the Nations League.
Add to this the form they have shown in these World Cup qualifiers gives a true picture of how Gareth Southgate has taken this team from strength to strength.
A Euro 2020 triumph in the offering followed by maybe a World Cup too?
Why not? For me, it’s more than just a belief!
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