What a surprise that England’s dominance would be enough of an excuse for a portion of Hungary fans to behave barbarcially. They had loudly booed their visitors’ decision to make a peaceful anti-racism gesture before kick-off but the abuse began in earnest once Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock when applying the finishing touch to a fine team move ten minutes into the second half.
As the Londoner ran off to celebrate, displaying a tribute message to the Twitch streamer Steffie Gregg (who recently died aged 26), a shower of plastic cups landed around him. Later there were reports, first from ITV’s pitchside reporter Gabriel Clarke, that Sterling and substitute Jude Bellingham were subjected to monkey chants.
Neither Gareth Southgate nor the players put up for media duty afterwards, Harry Kane and John Stones, heard the reported abused as it occurred but the manager said statements had been given by a couple of unnamed players and they would proceed through the right channels.
“We have the mindset of letting the football doing the talking,” Stones said when asked. “I think we did that tonight.” Yet the post-match discussion rightly centred on repeat offenders and the need for effective punishments.
Southgate continues to speak with impressive clarity when it comes to social issues and has never been afraid to point out that there remains significant problems domestically too. He, the staff and players are doing all they can in the fight against discrimination and, behind the scenes, he must be far more frustrated with FIFA and UEFA than allowed to comment publicly.
The most striking line of all, though, came right at the end of a press conference in which there were only a couple of questions about the 4-0 win. “Although some people are stuck in their way of thinking and prejuidices, they are going to be the dinosaurs in the end,” he said. Their extinction cannot come soon enough.
Southgate’s Chelsea comparison
To the game, then. On the eve of this fixture Southgate drew comparison with Chelsea’s approach under Thomas Tuchel by way of supporting his own team’s style, pointing to the fact the European champions only have three attackers on the pitch most of the time and underlining the importance of defensive resilience among the world’s best teams.
Until he named four as Jack Grealish came into the XI that lost to Italy in the Euros final, the formation switched to 4-2-3-1 and few could question the lack of adventure in such a comprehensive win on hostile ground.
England dominated the opening half without much success in the final third but once Sterling broke the deadlock they found another level. By the end there were 12 attempts, eight on target, four goals and zero serious questions around the ambition of a team packed with talent.
Criticism of a supposed defensive style has always seemed a tad want cake and eat it and Southgate’s point over Chelsea carried some substance. Yet at the same time they are routinely putting three or more goals past inferior sides. Add Hungary to a list featuring Ukraine, San Marino, Iceland, Ireland and Wales since the beginning of last season. Expecting them to do the same against another top side is deluded. Much like Chelsea?
Rice adds bite
The enduring image of the West Ham United midfielder’s evening will be him drinking from a plastic cup that was thrown from the home end as England celebrated Sterling’s goal but this was another fine performance from the central midfielder.
He added bite after a tepid first half and made the interception before setting Jack Grealish away for the goal that opened the floodgates. Deserved getting his own name on the scoresheet a couple minutes from the end even though goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi helped with a clumsy attempt at keeping a low shot out.
Fit and sharp again, Jordan Henderson will likely start versus Andorra at Wembley on Sunday evening but there can be no remaining doubt that Rice and Kalvin Phillips are the go to in the big games.
At his best the England captain would have departed with a hat-trick, if not four goals, having missed three excellent chances. He had five attempts on goal, four of them on target, and a man so driven by records will consider this an opportunity missed despite a fine team performance and excellent result.
Two clear chances had arrived before his diving header made it 2-0 to England but the problem is many will not be satisfied that his non-transfer saga is a thing of the past until he starts scoring with familiar regularity. Perhaps this was merely early-season rustiness. Spurs and England will hope so.
Source by Football London