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In Focus: Five key talking points from England 3-0 Ivory Coast
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Sean Wilson
Ollie Watkins and Raheem Sterling both scored in England's 3-0 win over Ivory Coast
Ollie Watkins and Raheem Sterling both scored in England's 3-0 win over Ivory Coast

Full debutant Ollie Watkins, Raheem Sterling and Tyrone Mings all scored as England beat 10-man Ivory Coast 3-0 at Wembley. 

Watkins opened the scoring with his second goal in a Three Lions shirt, tapping into an empty net from close range after Manchester City star Sterling beat Serge Aurier and rolled a low cross through Eric Bailly's legs. 

Five minutes before the break, the visitors were reduced to 10 men when Aurier received a second yellow card for dissent, and England capitalised soon after. 

Sterling drove through the middle and his initial shot from just inside the area was saved. But Jack Grealish cut the rebound back for his City team-mate to slot home. 

Mings rounded off the scoring late on, heading home substitute Phil Foden's inswinging corner kick. 

An inverted right-back experiment

Gareth Southgate stuck with three central defenders but changed shape from the back three he deployed against Switzerland, utilising Ben White as an inverted right-back in a back four. 

The Arsenal defender played a similar role to the one Takehiro Tomiyasu performs next to him for the Gunners, tucking in centrally to provide security and an extra passing option rather than making overlapping runs. 

But White was replaced by natural full-back Kyle Walker-Peters at half-time.

It will be interesting to see whether Southgate uses this tactical set-up again, having switched between a three-man and a four-man defence throughout World Cup qualifying.

Maguire's return

Harry Maguire was efficient in possession against Ivory Coast
Harry Maguire was efficient in possession against Ivory Coast

Harry Maguire made his return to the England starting line-up after being left on the bench against Switzerland. 

The centre-back has endured a difficult campaign with Manchester United but picked up where he left off with England after a fine Euro 2020 campaign. 

Maguire was not unduly tested defensively but also looked composed in possession and was accurate with his passing from deep. 

For whatever reason, the defender seems to enjoy playing for his country more than his club.

Hey Jude

Jude Bellingham put in a dynamic display in midfield at Wembley
Jude Bellingham put in a dynamic display in midfield at Wembley

On a night when Southampton's set-piece specialist James Ward-Prowse was afforded a rare chance to stake his claim in midfield, Jude Bellingham stole the show. 

The teenager was bright in possession, showing quick feet and regularly driving into the box or making forward runs off the ball. 

One such move led to a shot that Ivory Coast goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare deflected on to the post.

Another saw the referee award a penalty, although the decision was correctly overturned following a VAR review.

Bellingham catches the eye almost every time he takes to the field for the Three Lions and, at only 18, is an exceptionally exciting prospect.

Sterling rise

Raheem Sterling produced a man-of-the-match performance
Raheem Sterling produced a man-of-the-match performance

In Harry Kane's absence, Sterling was handed the armband and the forward delivered a captain's performance. 

His speed, positivity and dribbling created the first goal almost out of nothing. He displayed those qualities again to net the second himself. 

The City star started nominally on the right but was given license to roam from his position, notching his assist from the left and driving through the middle for his goal.

Southgate will be hoping Sterling carries this form with him to Qatar.

Watkins' audition

Watkins' first England start produced a goal, so it seems strange to suggest that he perhaps could have done more to make his case for the spot as Kane's deputy this winter. 

However, the Aston Villa forward was quiet aside from his strike — his only shot in just over an hour — and was hardly involved in build-up play.

A trademark of Kane's game is his propensity to drop deep and link up with his team-mates.

If Southgate is looking for a back-up who can perform the same role, Watkins did little tonight to suggest he is capable of being that kind of centre forward.


EnglandIvory CoastBen WhiteRaheem SterlingOllie WatkinsHarry Maguire
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