Sancho in focus as Dortmund star shines on first competitive start for England

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Jadon Sancho was handed his first competitive start for England in the Euro 2020 qualifier against Czech Republic at Wembley.

He provided an assist for Raheem Sterling’s opening goal of the 5-0 win and put in an enterprising shift on the right.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at the teenager’s performance.

Young gun

Having been named in Gareth Southate’s side he became the third youngest England player to start an competitive fixture at Wembley, behind Duncan Edwards in 1955 and Michael Owen in 1998.

He started on the right of a three-man attack, which included Sterling and Harry Kane, and got his chance because of Marcus Rashford’s injury.

He was not restricted to the right, though, as he often drifted into the middle to take up central positions and also popped up on the left.

He was involved throughout the match, giving left-back Filip Novak a night to forget at Wembley and proving himself capable at this level.

King of the assists

He may be three days shy of his 19th birthday, but Sancho is already in esteemed company this season, as he and Lionel Messi have made more assists than any other player in the top five European leagues with 12 apiece.

And he needed only 24 minutes to get his first in an England shirt as he teed up Sterling for the opener.

It was a fine run in behind left-back Novak and, in exactly the sort of position that he has taken up for Borussia Dortmund so many times this season, he rolled the ball across for a tap-in.

He’s got the X Factor

It is easy to see why Sancho has hogged the column inches this season and has been spoken about in the gushing way that he has.

He brings excitement to the game and he is fearless with the way he attacks with his lightning pace and unrelenting directness.

When he gets the ball, something does not always happen, but you know it might.

There were a few unsuccessful dribbles throughout the match, but also a moment of trickery as he nutmegged Novak and then tried an audacious flick around David Pavelka which earned a corner.

A near miss

Sancho should have marked his first competitive start with an assist and a goal as he will never have a better chance to get on the scoresheet for his country.

After another fast-flowing move, involving Sterling and Harry Kane, the England captain pulled it back to Sancho who was six yards out, but his shot was blocked by Novak.

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England player ratings as Sterling scores a 10 while Sancho gets an 8

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Raheem Sterling’s hat-trick helped England swat aside the Czech Republic as Gareth Southgate’s men made a dream start to their European Championship qualification campaign.

After reaching the World Cup semi-finals and the inaugural Nations League Finals during an unforgettable 2018, the Three Lions kicked off their Euro 2020 journey at the ground where the trophy will be lifted in 478 days’ time.

Sterling netted three and won the first-half penalty converted by captain Harry Kane, with 18-year-old debutant Callum Hudson-Odoi getting away the shot that led Czech Republic defender Tomas Kalas to rather comically turn into his own goal as the match finished 5-0.

Here’s our ratings from England’s win.

JORDAN PICKFORD: Never really tested as he kept the clean sheet he wanted to claim in honour of Gordon Banks. 6. (out of 10)

KYLE WALKER: Always a willing runner down the right and played a part in Sterling’s second goal of the night. 7.

MICHAEL KEANE: Chosen as the man to replaced the injured John Stones and did not put a foot wrong. 7.

HARRY MAGUIRE: Was an apparent target for the Czech defence but the Leicester man was largely untroubled. 7.

BEN CHILWELL: Seizing his chance to emerge as England’s first-choice left-back. 6.

ERIC DIER: Forced off after an early challenge left the Tottenham man with a foot injury. 5.

JORDAN HENDERSON: Kept things ticking over in the midfield and always reliable. 7.

DELE ALLI: Still appears to be working his way back to full fitness and that was not helped here after an early challenge left him limping. 6.

JADON SANCHO: Shone on his first competitive start, claiming an assist for Sterling’s first goal – should have grabbed one for himself in the second-half. 8.

RAHEEM STERLING: Another fine evening in an England shirt as he grabbed an international hat-trick and won the first-half penalty. 10.

HARRY KANE: Always deadly from 12 yards and converted yet another international spot-kick – also played in Sancho in the build-up to the opener. 8.

SUBSTITUTES:

ROSS BARKLEY (for Dier, 16): Introduced earlier than expected due to Dier’s injury and showed some good touches. 6.

DECLAN RICE (for Alli, 63): Will have been glad to finally pull on the shirt after plenty of talk about his switch from the Republic of Ireland and his controversial old Instagram quotes. 6.

CALLUM HUDSON-ODOI (for Sterling, 70): Became the youngest player to make his England debut in a competitive game and his shot led to Kalas’ unfortunate own goal. 7.

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Raheem Sterling is now one of England's leaders, says Gareth Southgate

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Gareth Southgate hailed Raheem Sterling’s new-found maturity and “devastating” finishing after the Manchester City forward helped England start their Euro 2020 qualification campaign in style.

After reaching the World Cup semi-finals and inaugural Nations League Finals last year, 2019 began with a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic in front of a sell-out Wembley crowd on Friday evening.

Sterling netted his first treble for England and earned the penalty that saw Harry Kane score the second goal.

A shot from 18-year-old debutant Callum Hudson-Odoi then led to Tomas Kalas’ own goal, with Eric Dier’s injury the only downside for Southgate.

Jadon Sancho made his first competitive start and newly-eligible Declan Rice made his debut on a memorable night, but one man dominated the talk after Friday’s Group A opener.

“I saw what I’ve seen all week from him, so the level he hit didn’t surprise me,” manager Southgate said of Sterling.

“He’s in a really confident moment, not only on the field, but off the field he’s so mature and comfortable in himself.

“I think I talked about that earlier in the week, really, how I’ve seen that.

“So I’m delighted for him to get the reaction that he did from the crowd here. We can’t hide from the fact that he’s had difficult moments with England and he’s turned that full circle.

“I also think the goals in Spain were an important moment for him. You could see the release that had brought.

“And his finishes there and tonight were finishes that he was just taking on without thinking too much.

“At times, you could almost see the thought process in the past, but he’s hungry for those goals.

“I know he’s spoken about that before, of how he’s added that incentive to his game and I thought he was devastating tonight.”

Sterling wrapped up his hat-trick with a deflected effort on an evening that started with him scoring at the end of a 25-pass move.

The Manchester City forward celebrated his second by revealing a T-shirt paying tribute to 13-year-old Damary Dawkins, who died on Sunday after a battle with leukaemia.

“I’ve put him into the leadership group that we have,” Southgate said of Sterling.

“I think he’s showing those signs, I think he’s a role model for the younger players coming in.

“He’s really focused on his training and his preparation and I think he’s enjoyed that extra responsibility as well.”

The only setback on a comfortable night for England was the hip injury that forced off Dier and rules him out of Monday’s trip to Montenegro.

But despite scoring five goals and keeping a clean sheet, Southgate was not completely happy.

“I thought we were a little slow at the start to move the ball, and there was a period at the beginning of the second half where we lost a bit of tactical discipline and conceded chances that on another night would be punished,” the England boss said.

“I’m nit-picking, but I think we can get better and I think we’ve got to keep doing that because these guys have got the potential to play at an even higher level than they did tonight, I think.”

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