England boss Gareth Southgate has heaped praise on Arsenal star Bukayo Saka as he was “super impressed” by his performance against the Czech Republic.
England nearly made the perfect start on Tuesday night as Sterling hit the post in the second minute. His dinked effort got the better of Tomas Vaclik, but the ball ricocheted away off the post.
Sterling did get his goal in the 12th minute, though. Jack Grealish did well as he crossed it towards the back post. The Man City man was there to head the ball home from close range.
Jordan Henderson, Jude Bellingham, Marcus Rashford, Tyrone Mings and Jadon Sancho were all given runouts by Southgate in the second half.
England kept their 1-0 lead intact which means that they finish top of Group D with seven points. Croatia’s 3-1 win over Scotland secured them second spot in the group.
The Three Lions will play France, Portugal, Germany or Hungary in the next round.
Saka was one of England’s best performers on Tuesday night and Southgate told ITV Sport (as cited by BBC Sport) that the 19-year-old was “fantastic”:
“I thought we started really well,” Southgate said. “We were stable with the ball. We worked on some things in training yesterday but credit to the players as they had to adjust. Without the ball we changed what we were doing because of the change in personnel. It is huge credit to the players that they were as stable without the ball as they were.
“We hadn’t finalised everything as we got the shout during training (over the players needing to isolate). We have been super impressed with Bukayo Saka throughout the month. He was excellent up at Middlesbrough and we have liked him with and without the ball. His receiving tonight under pressure was fantastic.
“The Czechs are a really good side. They use the ball well and are really tough to break down. There is more to come from us, definitely. We have not scored from a set play yet which I know people laughed at with us only scoring from them. They are crucial in big matches and we have to get those nailed. We are not fluent but we have moments where we look a good side.
“Different sorts of tests. All of our next opponents will be different games. There is a lot of good things we are doing. We are getting minutes for a lot of the players. Ninety minutes for Harry Maguire was important tonight. Jordan Henderson getting 45 minutes is a step forward. A lot of positives.
“It is great to be having more supporters in that is for sure. Who knows if that will be a good or not. We wanted to win the group and stay at Wembley and we will wait to see who we play.”