England vs Panama : England are through to the World Cup last 16 in style after trouncing Panama 6-1 in Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday. Here AFP looks at six things we learned from the match.
Lingard is becoming an England star
Jesse Lingard scored England’s best goal on Sunday, did the shoo dance celebration and spent 90 minutes showing his increasing value to a team. “I am really pleased for Jesse, his performances have been top,” said coach Gareth Southgate. Just a few months ago, Lingard was not considered a starter for England, now he is fast becoming one of its most integral parts.
England’s fragile defence
It may sound harsh about a team who have only conceded two goals so far, but when pressed England’s defence has looked fragile in both games. Lost in the euphoria of six goals and qualification, it should not be forgotten Panama should have scored first on Sunday. At some point, a much better team will put Southgate’s back three under a much stiffer examination.
England have scored several goals from set plays this World Cup, including two John Stones headers on Sunday. Set plays could become even more important for England in the next games as they will play more possession-based teams and have fewer chances. Southgate said afterwards they will keep practising them in preparation.
Panama are dreadful
Panama have been this year’s fairytale, their qualification exceptional, their fans wonderful, and their goal against England tear-inducing for some. But they have also been dreadful. England should not get carried away after putting six past them.
Two games played, six points, eight goals scored and two conceded. Belgium and England have identical records except for one thing, England have accrued two yellow cards, Belgium three. A draw between the two sides in Kaliningrad on Thursday and the last few minutes could be very interesting.
Stick or bust?
Gareth Southgate admits he now faces a dilemma, to keep the same side or keep his squad happy when it comes to team selection for the Belgium game. Roberto Martinez has already indicated he will make changes, will the England coach do the same?