Gareth Southgate: This England side can take teams apart
England qualify for Euro 2020 with 7-0 win over Montenegro
By Peter Smith
Last Updated: 15/11/19 7:01am
Gareth Southgate praised his team's ability to cut through opposition defences after watching England hammer Montenegro 7-0 to book their place at Euro 2020.
A Harry Kane hat-trick and strikes from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marcus Rashford and Tammy Abraham, plus an Aleksandar Sofranac own goal, saw England qualify for next summer's tournament in style.
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The goal rush took England's tally to 33 in Group A and makes them the top scorers in Euro 2020 qualifying with one match still to play.
"I think the quality of our attacking play in the first half was excellent," said Southgate.
"It's been a group that we expected to win but we've totally taken teams apart and matches that in the past have been problematic for England teams, where teams have defended deep in numbers and been stubborn, because of our speed, movement, speed of ball circulation, we've carved those teams apart and added, of course, to the quality of the individual players that we've got, both on the pitch tonight and the players that have played earlier in the campaign.
"So, we knew we had a team tonight right the way through who would be really comfortable with the ball. Speed, athleticism, two high midfield players who can score goals as well and they did that in the first half and they'd killed the game within 25 minutes really."
While England's attack are firing, the clean sheet at the other end was not the full story, with Jordan Pickford forced into a couple of smart saves in the first half.
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While Michael Keane partnered Harry Maguire at the start of the previous round of internationals, the Everton defender has been cut from the squad after a series of errors and John Stones instead returned to the starting XI at centre-back.
Southgate appeared to still be uncertain of what his favoured centre-back pairing is.
"Tonight, [there were] a couple of chances we conceded that just shouldn't happen, so that's still part of our game that we've got to improve upon," he said.
"If we are to be a team that are going to challenge seriously, although we're young, we've got to manage games well and, although we're such a fantastic attacking threat, we've got to make sure that the rest of the team is right as well.
"We've enjoyed a lot of the game but also there are things that we've got to be better at."
England finish their qualifying campaign away to Kosovo, where victory will guarantee them top spot in the group and a place among the top seeds at Euro 2020.
"We will make some changes, for sure, but the seeding in the group could be critical and we know it's a big night for the Kosovans," said Southgate.
"It's a shame for them that they're now out of this part of the qualification although they've still got the playoffs in which I think they'll be a huge threat in that format.
"So, it will be a good test for us because it will still be a lively environment. The enthusiasm for the game is high and we want to finish the group with as many points as we can."