Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick as the feel-good factor for Gareth Southgate’s England continued with a 5-0 win over the Czech Republic in their opening Euro 2020 qualifier.
After a World Cup to remember and Nations League success, Southgate led England into the start of a qualifying campaign for the first time, but his Three Lions picked up exactly where they’d left off.
England dominated from start to finish, with Sterling the star as he scored three, and was brought down for Harry Kane’s penalty before a late Tomas Kalas own goal made it five.
Jadon Sancho made his first England start and formed a potent-looking three-pronged attack with Kane and Sterling - with all three involved in a classy opener from the now prolific Manchester City man.
Southgate was able to get both Declan Rice and Callum Hudson-Odoi some playing time in the second half in what was a near-perfect start to qualifying for Euro 2020 which, on this form, should be a formality.
Southgate can do no wrong
In a slight change up front, England played with three forwards with Sancho and Sterling staying more out wide, and Southgate's decision to include the young Dortmund man from the start paid off as he set up Sterling for the 50th goal under the current England boss.
The back post tap-in was a goal we've seen time and time again from Sterling at Man City, as Southgate seems found a similar way to Pep Guardiola to unlock the undoubted goal potential that he possesses.
A Sterling dart into the box brought about the penalty that Kane dispatched for a 2-0 half time lead, and after a spirited start to the second half by the visitors, normal service was resumed as a neat turn and finish from Sterling effectively sealed the points.
A deflected shot sealed the hat-trick for Sterling, who was taken off soon after to a standing ovation at Wembley - completing a remarkable turnaround from the pre-Southgate era when he was the scapegoat for many England fans.
Being able to send on Rice and Hudson-Odoi capped a perfect night for Southgate, who looks like being able to walk through their qualifying group on this performance.
WATCH: Sterling's England hat-trick
England 5-0 Czech Republic - Opta stats
- England are unbeaten in their last 40 qualifying matches (Euros and World Cup), winning 31 and drawing nine since a 0-1 defeat to Ukraine in October 2009.
- This was England’s biggest win at Wembley since a 5-0 triumph over San Marino in October 2014.
- Raheem Sterling became the first England player to score a hat-trick at Wembley since Jermain Defoe in September 2010, scoring with all three of his shots in the match.
- Callum Hudson-Odoi is the youngest player to make his debut for the England national team in a competitive match, aged 18 years and 135 days.
- Raheem Sterling’s first goal ended a sequence of 25 passes, with 10 of England’s 11 players touching the ball in the build-up to the goal.
- Harry Kane has scored 16 goals for England under manager Gareth Southgate – 11 more than any other player.
- Raheem Sterling has scored with five of his last seven shots for England – he had scored with just two of his first 62 efforts at goal for the Three Lions.
- This was the first time in 138 years that England featured two players aged 18 or younger in an international match (Sancho and Hudson-Odoi) – the last occasion was in February 1881 against Wales (Thurston Rostron and Jimmy Brown).
- England have scored the last 18 penalties they’ve taken at Wembley – David Platt was the last player to fail to score, in February 1993 against San Marino.