Gareth Southgate singles out England's attacking stars for praise after Wembley win

Deanna Kelley
June 3, 2018

This is the phoney-war period before the World Cup, the last couple of friendlies are about to commence and in the absence of actual football to talk about side issues such as Raheem Sterling's tattoos are being blown up into big news.

The signs are good for Harry Kane.

The Super Eagles visit Wembley in the first of two World Cup warm-up games for Gareth Southgate's side.

It was a different story entirely, as the Super Eagles came back with goal in the second half and pulled one back through Alex Iwobi. Nigeria's ability to surge in the second half off the back of a formation change like this bodes quite well for the summer's tournament, but they may want to work on being better in the first halves if they want to really progress. The home side started the game strongly, with the Nigerian players looking out of sorts. England's talisman and chief goal threat appears to be warming up for the World Cup nicely, and will be buoyed by hitting his eighth England goal in his past seven worldwide appearances.

But his performance against Nigeria showed the No 9 is heading back to where he needs to be.

The Three Lions took control of the game in the 39th minute when Kane drilled a shot from the edge of the penalty area and Nigeria goalkeeper Francis Uzoho allowed it to squeeze past him.

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Kane scored England's second goal with a fine finish and linked play with confidence in the final third.

Gareth Southgate has been relentless in his refusal to get carried away about England's chances at the World Cup.

That leaves Chelsea captain Gary Cahill and Leicester's Harry Maguire likely to fight for the other spot.

England's possession-based approach means they'll look to commit men forward, and with a back three, there should be spaces in the channels which can be exploited if Nigeria can get the ball forward quickly. He continued to menace Nigeria from set-pieces for the rest of the game, but married that with some truly terrific defending.

England made a sharp start to the match, but their first opening arrived in controversial fashion when the referee refused to stop play after two Nigerian players had clashed heads, instead awarding England a free kick in a good position seconds later.

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