Much-changed England solid if unspectacular in win over Andorra
Birthday boy Bukayo Saka scored at the end where he endured penalty shoot-out heartache as England beat Andorra in their first match at Wembley since the Euro 2020 final.
There was a carnival atmosphere under the arch before kick-off as fans showed their appreciation for an unforgettable summer, just 56 days on from the agonising spot-kick loss to Italy.
Much-changed England responded with a comfortable, if unspectacular, 4-0 victory against the side ranked 156th in the world, with Saka completing the scoring to bring a smile to Gareth Southgate’s face and millions across the nation.
While Jesse Lingard hit a brace – his first international goals since November 2018 – and substitute Harry Kane moved onto 40 international goals, there was no more popular scorer than the likeable winger.
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Saka missed from the spot against Italy along with Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford but showed great character in an impressive performance as he returned to Wembley on Sunday.
Not only did he assist both of Lingard’s goals but the Arsenal player also celebrated his 20th birthday with a headed effort as England’s 100 per cent World Cup qualification record continued with ease.
Southgate insisted England should be happy with the result, despite a brand new XI not gelling so easily at Wembley.
“It’s difficult for the team we picked, they hadn’t had many matches together as a group,” said Southgate.
“You’re playing against a team that really know how to frustrate.
“So you have to keep moving the ball, keep being patient and it wasn’t necessarily such an easy task, especially for some of the younger players.”
Saka admitted scoring on his 20th birthday proved the ideal celebration.
“It’s the perfect birthday present for me, I’m really happy we got the win and I could celebrate my birthday like this,” Saka said.
“I’m really happy with the reception everyone gave me, that meant a lot for me and made me want to give my all.
“I think it means a lot, it really made a difference for me, even just now I can hear fans cheering my name.
“It makes me believe everyone supports me through thick and thin and it’s nice.”