Former Sheffield United defender Phil Jagielka believes England have a “special” crop of young talent after leading them to their tenth successive Euro 2016 qualifying win last night.
England triumphed 3-0 in Lithuania to seal a perfect 10 of qualifying victories, thanks to strikes from Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and an own goal from Lithuania goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis.
And Jagielka, who led a fledgling England team in the absence of regular skipper Wayne Rooney, said: “We knew it was going to be a difficult task to win all 10 but that was the game plan from day one and obviously we managed to do it.
“We have good youth players coming through and hopefully if we can nurture it we could have something special.
“We have chose some really tough friendlies. It will be hard games but we will try to prove ourselves.”
This is the first time England have qualified for a major tournament in this format with a 100 per cent record.
And although England’s group may have been the easiest in qualifying, the achievement should not be sniffed at, and once again the likes of Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana showed glimpses of class against a weak yet stubbornly-well organised Lithuania side.
Tottenham striker Harry Kane drew three impressive saves from Arlauskis within the first 22 minutes, but he then played an important part in England’s opening goal.
After some impressive play down the right, Kane rolled the ball to Barkley, who got the ball out from under his feet before cracking a shot into the goal off the upright. Replays showed the shot took a slight deflection off Tomas Mikuckis, but it was still a stunning strike from Barkley.
The second owed much to good fortune; Lallana flicked the ball into Kane’s path after receiving the ball from the Spurs forward and he unleashed a low drive which hit the post and struck the goalkeeper’s back before the ball rolled into the net.
The Lithuania stopper could do nothing to stop Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fine strike just after the hour, however.
The Arsenal winger beat the offside trip and latched on to Kyle Walker’s incisive pass before belting the ball into the top corner to seal the win which sent England to France on the back of a 10-match winning streak.