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E

ngland maintained their 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying with a late show against Andorra.

Returning to Wembley 56 days after their heartbreaking Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy on penalties, the Three Lions eventually ran out 4-0 winners against the minnows in Group I, with Jesse Lingard netting a brace and Harry Kane and Bukayo Saka also on target.

However, they only led 1-0 up until the final 18 minutes of a largely dour game, with substitutes Kane, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish eventually helping to turn the tide.

Gareth Southgate initially made 11 changes to the team that beat Hungary 4-0 on Thursday in a match that was marred by racist abuse aimed at Raheem Sterling and Jude Bellingham by a section of the home crowd in Budapest.

Leeds striker Patrick Bamford – omitted from the squad for the Euros – was handed a senior England debut up front on his 28th birthday, supported by fellow birthday boy Saka and Lingard, while Trent Alexander-Arnold was handed a new role in a midfield three alongside Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson and Bellingham.

Sam Johnstone was preferred to Nick Pope in goal with Jordan Pickford rested, with Reece James, Conor Coady, Tyrone Mings and Kieran Trippier starting in defence.

It took England 18 minutes to break the deadlock, with the busy and tricky Lingard – who produced a Cristiano Ronaldo celebration – firing into the bottom corner after being teed up by Saka, with the impressive Bellingham showing wonderful feet to set up the attack.

Lingard had previously not scored for England since November 2018, but had the ball in the net again shortly afterwards, but his excellent lob was rightly ruled out for offside.

England completely dominated and controlled the remainder of the first half, but their performance was rather underwhelming as the paper planes – an unfortunate staple of Wembley matches such as these when the goals aren’t flying in – buzzed around the stadium from fans trying to keep themselves amused.

Saka had a shot deflected wide, Coady produced an instinctive overhead kick that saw the ball land on the roof of the net, Bamford just couldn’t turn home Saka’s brilliant cross to the back post and Bellingham fired into the side netting, but Andorra were delighted to make it to half-time only 1-0 behind.

Source: DUK News

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