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England 5-0 Czech Republic: Gareth Southgate praises mature Raheem Sterling after Man City man scores a hat-trick in Euro 2020 qualifying

Raheem Sterling and England manager Gareth Southgate
Raheem Sterling and England manager Gareth Southgate

Gareth Southgate says an "electric" Raheem Sterling is showing his maturity as he continues his transformation into England's main man with a hat-trick against the Czech Republic.

Southgate admitted to changing his system slightly to try and get more out of Sterling, and it paid off as Sterling and Jadon Sancho thrived out in wider positions either side of Harry Kane.

The England boss says a greater maturity and a greater hunger for goals has made Sterling much more dangerous, as he starts to show more of his Man City form for his country.

England 5-0 Czech Republic

"I thought Raheem was electric all night. He's looked that way all week in training, involved in four of the goals. I'm really pleased for him, it's a special night for him," Southgate told ITV.

"I just think he's really matured as a person and a footballer. He's hungry for those goals now.

"He's determined to get in the right areas of the pitch and the quality of his finishing, he's just hitting things instinctively without thinking too much."

A change of system to 4-3-3 seems to have reaped rewards for Southgate, who added: "I think we've got exciting wide players, you saw the two young boys as well, obviously Marcus Rashford can play there and we've got others.

"It gets us good offensive players on the field and higher up the pitch as well. I thought there was some really good football at times."

Sterling on beautiful England performance

It was a fantastic night all round for Sterling, who grew up in the shadow of Wembley Stadium and now seems to have finally convinced all England fans of his quality.

Sterling told ITV afterwards: "It was a beautiful team performance and I was happy to help the team. Most importantly we got the win and that's the most important thing."

On his own performance he added: "I'm just being confident with myself. Being there and trying to get in areas and trying to take shots and not worry about anything, just go with it. That's it.

"The first goal actually (was the most satisfying). Just to get another goal up and running again, that was the most pleasing one."

Young guns excite Sterling

Sancho excelled as did Declan Rice on debut, while Callum Hudson-Odoi had a late cameo, with all three earning praise from Sterling.

He added: "They're playing for their clubs and they're special talents, every single one of them. Jadon, I've seen numerous times and every time I've seen him I get excited.

"Callum has probably had a limited amount of games at Chelsea but he's the same again, every time I've seen him I've been really excited.

"And also, Declan as well, he's really mature and for a holding midfielder, he's using the ball well. I'm just happy that they're English to be honest with you."

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Most Read Football

Follow our live football blog for instant score updates, game stats and in play betting advice
1

Live in-play football blog

Join our live in-play football blog for live commentary of Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest, followed by full coverage of the EFL 3pm games.

Get all the latest football gossip from the day's back pages2

Paper Talk: Battle for Benito

Arsenal and Everton are keen on Fortuna Dusseldorf striker Benito Raman, according to today's back pages.

Sporting Life's Premier League preview package3

Saturday's Premier League tips

After profit in midweek on the Champions League, George Pitts looks ahead to Saturday's 3pm PL kick-offs with the best bets and top stats.

Ajax beat Juve in the Champions League quarter-finals4

Ajax given extra Spurs prep time

The Dutch FA have postponed a full round of league fixtures in order to give Ajax extra time to prepare to face Spurs.

Mark Duffy celebrates his goal for Sheff United against Nottingham Forest5

Championship: Blades do the job

Second-half goals from Mark Duffy and Enda Stevens saw Sheffield United beat 10-man Nottingham Forest 2-0 to give their hopes of finishing in the top two a much-needed boost.

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