Southgate praises Lingard’s debut performance for England

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On a day where England dominated from start to finish, it was a Manchester United youngster that caught the eyes of the Three Lions’ new manager.

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Gareth Southgate‘s first match as England’s boss could have gone a bit smoother in the scoring department, however, the Three Lions comfortably dealt with Malta in a 2-0 decision at Wembley Stadium.

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While it was Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli that earned the glory for their respective finishes prior to halftime, Southgate and his staff came away with a strong impression from United attacker Jesse Lingard, who went the full 90 minutes.

Southgate told ITV:

“Jesse Lingard had an outstanding debut and looked a real threat,” Southgate said following the match. “That’s why we wanted to start him. He’s got a strong mentality and he’s an exciting player. The stage is made for him and he’s scored twice at Wembley for United.”

The 23-year-old managed four shots on the day, troubling Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg on several occasions.

While Southgate praised his squad’s performance over the first stanza, the newly-dubbed England coach wasn’t reluctant to call out his team’s effort following halftime.

“I thought in the first half we played well and we could and should have had more goals,” Southgate said. “Their goalkeeper made good saves. One or two players looked after themselves physically. We made positive changes and missed good chances but given where we were 10 days ago I’m pleased with the result but there is room to improve on the performance.

“I think players subconsciously know the game is won and we could have made it more comfortable but some of them were thinking about the next game which comes quickly.