Raheem Sterling shines as England beat Kosovo 5-3 in their European Qualifier, but who else caught the eye at St Mary’s?
England player ratings
Jordan Pickford – 6
In a game of such chaos, it was unusual for Pickford not to play a key part – he was on the edge of the game as Kosovo attacked with a clinical nature in front of goal that resulted in him picking the ball out of his net three times.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
Provided brilliant width at times, especially in the early period of the second-half when he almost opened his international account. The Liverpool man doesn’t always convince with his positional play, but rarely was caught out, unlike his defensive compatriots.
Michael Keane – 5
Preferred to Joe Gomez and Tyrone Mings alongside Maguire in the heart of England’s defence again, but made a horrendous error to gift Kosovo the opener. Looked very assured when tasked with engaging with Vedat Muriqi, but not so in possession, giving the ball away 10 times.
Against better opposition, he’d be targeted as a weak link with the ball at his feet.
Harry Maguire – 6
Not his finest game in an England shirt. Usually a calming presence but looked panicky at various points in the game, perfectly summed up by his rash challenge to give away the penalty.
Ben Chilwell – 6
In a game of such open nature, Chilwell will be disappointed not to have affected the game more in the attacking third.
Declan Rice – 6
Promising, but far from the finished article. He put in another solid showing, protecting his back four with great authority and breaking up play at key moments to start England counter attacks that define Southgate’s philosophy. One of his crunching tackles in midfield set Sterling on his way to set Sancho up for England’s third goal. However, the West Ham man was at fault for Kosovo’s second goal – a lapse in concentration with his passing that was punished.
Jordan Henderson – 7
Busy as ever in the engine room. His wise head is a key component of the way England play. The beauty of Henderson is his simplicity.
Ross Barkley – 7
Frustration follows Barkley around in an England shirt. At times, he floats around the pitch linking the play with clever passing, but when it comes to making that final decision in the final third, he can fall flat. His lack of concentration was also exposed when putting Keane under pressure with a lazy pass which ultimately led to Kosovo’s opening goal. Saying that, he certainly provided great service to a front three that relished so much time and space.
Raheem Sterling – 9 (Man of the Match)
This is Raheem Sterling’s world at the moment and we’re just living in it. A phenomenal performance. For those out there that may still doubt him, it’s time to surrender.
He was England’s shining light – yet again. With his team in trouble early on, he grabbed the game by the scruff and made two game-changing moments: the headed equaliser – his eighth goal in eight internationals – and the silky run and assist for Kane to give England the lead. From there, it was exhibition stuff from the winger, who played in Jadon Sancho for his first international goals with some cool and calculating assists.
Sterling has now been involved in 13 goals in his last eight England appearances. On current form, he has to be involved in the debate of being the best footballer on the planet. That may sound like an outlandish statement – and yes, this was Kosovo – but his movement, close control, pace, and final ball are all hitting monumental levels. And, he’s getting better. Scary.
Jadon Sancho – 8
Oh, the future is bright with talent like this. Two goals and an assist in an competitive international will give this sensation further evidence that he’s ready for this level of football – not that he plays with a lack of confidence. The Dortmund attacker had a quiet opening, but unleashed himself into the game just before the break, firing across the assist for the third goal before helping himself to his first internationals goals via some sexy Sterling approach work.
Harry Kane – 7
His talents complement the pace and trickery outside him in the front-line. Played a pivotal role leading the line, making two key passes and he took his chance in the first-half with typical ruthlessness. The only blot on his copybook was the penalty miss that left many in the ground open-mouthed. Two of the last three penalties Kane has missed for club and country have been at St. Mary’s.
Mason Mount – N/A
Marcus Rashford – N/A