In Group G, fans were in for a treat after England thoroughly dominated Panama in their FIFA World Cup clash at Nizhny Novgorod.
The domination secured England’s spot in the knockout stages of the competition and, at least for the moment, landed them at the top of their cluster ahead of Belgium.
There were many things to see for England and Panama, and it seems that good things are finally on the way for the Three Lions.
They needed a statement win ahead of their scheduled meeting against Belgium, and they definitely did so with the 6-1 victory.
Below are some of the talking points behind the near-flawless victory for the English squad.
MAKING THE MOST OF SET-PIECES
During their maiden match in the 2018 World Cup, the Three Lions secured the victory behind two Harry Kane goals that resulted from set-pieces.
This has been a key focus of coach Gareth Southgate to ensure that England are not wasteful when it comes to these chances in front of goal.
Against Panama, they were clinical and made the most of the dead-ball scenarios they had to score goals. John Stones found the back of the net as early as the eighth minute with a beautiful header from a corner kick.
With Kane locked up by the physical defence, the tall centre-backs took center stage and Stones found the back of the net twice against Panama.
PANAMA’S PHYSICALITY BACKFIRED
According to most, the only chance that Panama has against England was if the former would get physical to throw off the Three Lions off their game.
With their size and bulk as the only realistic advantage they had over the Europeans, Panama immediately made their intentions known as they were not afraid to create contact and clash with their opponents.
Unfortunately, it backfired as England were able to adjust accordingly and outwit their opponents en route to a dominating victory.
England were ready and rarely gave up possession despite being in a physical tangle with the Panama defenders. Furthermore, the Three Lions were credited with penalty calls as the Panama defenders were too eager from inside the box and it resulted in two penalty attempts that Kane took advantage of.
JESSE LINGARD DISPLAYS HIS QUALITY
With much of the attention focused on Kane and players like Raheem Sterling, 25-year-old Jesse Lingard made his presence felt with what could be the best goal of the night for the Englishmen.
The Manchester United man showed his impressive movement as he moved the ball towards the left before passing the ball to Sterling. Left unmarked, Lingard ran towards the middle of the pitch to receive the ball back from Sterling to perfectly strike the ball 36 minutes into the game.
With a swing of his leg he beat the oncoming defence of Panama that were too far away to stop him, helping England score their first goal from open play in the tournament. This is hopefully the start of a good World Cup for the young and rising star.
IT MAY BE TIME TO BELIEVE
Flying under the radar in the World Cup, England were overlooked as many were considering Spain, Portugal, France, Argentina and Germany as the favourites to win the competition.
However, it only needed two games from England to show that they are likely to be considered as real contenders in the competition.
With two wins already in the bag, beating Belgium in the final group stage match-up should realistically show England’s belief in their current World Cup journey.
If they do end up atop the group, then it is hard to discount their chances in the knockout stage as momentum plays a big part in a competition like the World Cup.
It appears that England have a group of players who are individually talented, but are capable of collectively playing alongside each other. This makes up for a very dangerous team and with a captain that is prepared to lead the line, anything is possible.