Phil Foden shows bright England future ahead as Gareth Southgate marks anniversary with a win

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
Phil Foden shows bright England future ahead as Gareth Southgate marks anniversary with a win
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Happy anniversary Gareth Southgate – but this was Phil Foden’s night.

While the temptation might have been to look back on a hugely successful five years under the England manager, Foden provided a reminder of a future that holds such promise in a 5-0 win against Andorra.

A future that will surely belong to the Manchester City playmaker.

Foden was just 16 when Southgate took charge of his first Three Lions game and represented the rich vein of talent in the pipeline.

At 21, he is still a work in progress, but already among the finest players of his generation.

It did not take a masterclass against Andorra to prove that – but Foden ensured a game of little consequence or, frankly, interest would be remembered for more than just the blaze that broke out inside the Estadi Nacional a day before this World Cup qualifier.

As stunning as the Pyrenees backdrop is, once night fell in Andorra, the onus was on the players on the pitch to provide the entertainment. And with the home side intent on keeping as many bodies between England and their goal, it was always going to be a case of how Southgate’s team would unlock them.

The fleet-footed Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were selected to exploit small spaces, but in a game when England would enjoy almost total domination of possession, it was about how effectively they used the ball.

Foden was the man to take up that challenge and it was his incisive passing that opened Andorra up, with diagonal passes from infield that found gaps only the most visionary can see.

That was the case when finding the run of Sancho after 16 minutes.

The Manchester United winger turned the pass into the path of Ben Chilwell, who fired home. And after a lengthy VAR check he was allowed to celebrate his first international goal, which was originally ruled out for offside.

Andorra’s resolve had been broken early, which was important. Not that it would prompt them to deviate from their tactics – but would at least ensure frustration would not be an issue for England.

Foden’s next trick was even better. With a wave of his wand of a left foot, he swept a pass into the run of Saka.

The Arsenal man’s control and thunderous shot into the roof of the net five minutes before half time was impressive enough -but Foden was the architect once more.

He was enjoying himself – pulling out his box of tricks. A flick here, a no-look pass there, this was street football on a pitch overlooked by the high-rise apartments that lined one side of the stadium.

The sense was that Foden was intent on making Andorra pay after repeatedly being the target of some rough treatment from a team not averse to the more cynical side of the game.

He may look like a boy, but he is a man on the pitch and not only stood up to that intimidation, but thrived on it.

This was never going to be anything other than celebratory anniversary for Southgate and a stroll towards three points that would move England ever closer to World Cup qualification.

He used the occasion to give opportunities to players who needed minutes and confidence boosts.

Sancho was one of those who could use a pick-me-up after a difficult start at United.

This was a positive night for him as he provided his second assist with a near-post cross to Tammy Abraham, who converted England’s third on 59 minutes.

For Abraham it was a goal that might put him at the head of the queue of the strikers aiming to establish themselves as first back-up to Harry Kane.

Like Chilwell, this was a return to the international fold for the former Chelsea forward, who is rebuilding his career at Roma.

James Ward-Prowse then made it a hat-trick of goals for the comeback kids – seeing his 79th-minute penalty saved by Josep Gomes before converting the rebound.

Substitute Jack Grealish had won the spot kick – and he would go on to complete the scoring when set free by the quick-thinking of Sam Johnstone and firing low into the corner of the net.

It crowned a routine win when England did precisely what was asked of them – and in a the case of Foden provided a sparkle of gold dust.

Read More

England player ratings vs Andorra: Phil Foden steals the show as Ben Chilwell takes his chance

Andorra 0-5 England: Jack Grealish and Ben Chilwell score first Three Lions goals in five star showing

Andorra 0-4 England LIVE! Ward-Prowse goal - World Cup qualifier match stream, latest score and goal updates today

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting