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Sunday, October 24, 2021

England cruise to victory over Andorra

IDBS ART GALLERY

Roma forward Tammy Abraham marked his first England start in four years with a goal against Andorra

England took another step towards confirming qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar with a predictably easy victory in Andorra.

Gareth Southgate’s side dropped their first points in qualifying when they drew in Poland in their last game but there was no threat of anything other than a very comfortable win against the country ranked 156th in the Fifa rankings.

England rested big guns such as captain Harry Kane but, with Phil Foden outstanding, they had far too much for Andorra and quickly established their superiority.

Foden played in Jadon Sancho to set up Ben Chilwell for his first England goal after 17 minutes, then the Manchester City youngster delivered the perfect pass for Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka to add a second five minutes before the break.

Tammy Abraham was desperate to get on the scoresheet after his good form with Roma won him a recall, then a start with Kane on the bench and Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured, and he was on the mark when he stole on to Sancho’s cross to score on the hour.

James Ward-Prowse added England’s fourth late on, scoring from a rebound after his penalty was saved by Andorra keeper Josep Gomes, before Jack Grealish produced a solo effort for his first international goal from England keeper Sam Johnstone’s superb throw.

England stars stake their claim

The opposition may have been Andorra – nestling between New Caledonia and the Dominican Republic in those Fifa rankings – but there was no disguising the sheer quality of Foden.

The 21-year-old was magnificent in Manchester City’s 2-2 draw at Liverpool and, playing in a slightly withdrawn role, was the game’s outstanding performer in Andorra.

In the first half, in particular, Foden was in majestic form as he effortlessly picked out team-mates with passes of the highest quality, contributing to England’s first two goals.

It was a good night for the returning Abraham, who has been rejuvenated since joining Jose Mourinho in Rome. He had a frustrating time initially as he could not quite get on the end of things but he showed persistence, awareness and the poacher’s instinct for his goal.

Sancho was another who made his mark, although he picked up a silly booking for kicking the ball away. The forward – who has made a low-key start following his £73m move to Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund – was positive, always willing to take defenders on and helped set up England’s first and third goals.

The added bonus came when Grealish, who has been asked to deliver England goals by Southgate, did just that when he latched on to Johnstone’s delivery and ran at the Andorra defence before tucking a low shot past Gomes.

England’s qualification for Qatar is a formality, as was this win that stretched their unbeaten record in World Cup qualifiers to 28 games, but this was a job very professionally done against an Andorra side that offered little other than game defence.

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