World Cup places up for grabs says England boss Southgate

Marcus Newton
June 2, 2018

Harry Kane continued his scoring streak as England captain but Gareth Southgate's side made heavy work of beating Nigeria in their final Wembley outing before the World Cup. The whole rhythm of the second half was wildly different, with Nigeria now looking confident and comfortable playing with an intensity that suited their side. The second is that while qualification for the 2022 World Cup should not prove too great a hurdle, England as yet have no idea who they will find in their group or how hard progress might be. Odion Ighalo's initial effort that rebounded off the post was a precise shot from a tight angle, with the former Watford man doing exceptionally well to hit the woodwork from such a position in the 18-yard box.

Dele Alli was subjected to jeers from the large contingent of Nigeria supporters, who recalled his decision to snub their country in favour of representing England.

It will be intriguing to see how the Manchester City man - and indeed, the rest of the defensive unit - cope when Nigeria's wealth of attacking talent can exert some pressure on them.

6' SAVE! Game is back on as England get a free-kick close to Nigeria's area.Trippier steps up and curls the ball around the wall but Uzoho palms it away for a corner.

He was withdrawn 20 minutes later as England laboured, but the first half was a reminder that Sterling remains a key component of Southgate's side - and England will need him on form and firing in Russian Federation if they are to have a successful summer.

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In the first half, Dele Alli, Jesse Lingard and Gary Cahill all put in impressive shifts, though Cahill was the only one of this trio to carry his performance into the second period.

Speaking just before kick-off, Southgate admitted he had doubts about selecting Sterling after he arrived a day late for the start of England's training camp due to a flight mix-up as he returned from holiday. Hopefully, we will get one over them on Saturday.

Sterling was eager, maybe overly so, to make his mark and lashed a rising effort over the bar after Alli held up Eric Dier's long-range pass.

Nigeria and England will today revive their rivalry in what has been described as Nigeria's biggest challenge heading to the FIFA World Cup 2018.

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