Soccer

England 4-0 Iceland: 5 talking points as Gareth Southgate given food for thought

England saw off Iceland in a comfortable victory at Wembley on Wednesday to round off their Nations League campaign.

The fixture was essentially a dead rubber, with England already unable to progress to the finals of the competition.

But Gareth Southgate still used the run-out to good effect, fielding a strong side who looked on course for a win from as early as the 24th minute.

Declan Rice had opened the scoring not long before that, glancing Phil Foden's free-kick into the far corner after Jack Grealish had been fouled.

Mason Mount then doubled the Three Lions' advantage to put them in command, reacting quickly inside the box to skip past one defender and slide the ball past the keeper.

Foden then added two goals for himself late on, turning in Jadon Sancho's cut back before then firing a low shot in from the edge of the box.

Here are the talking points.

1. Southgate given food for thought

It's not been the easiest few months for the England boss, but he will have seen plenty of positives to take from their final fixture as England cruised to victory to end an otherwise testing Nations League campaign on a high.

The fact they done so without the likes of Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson and others is testament to the strength in depth in England's squad.

Southgate now has a ream of options at his disposal, many of whom staked a real claim for a regular spot going forward.

Iceland are by no means a good side, but England produced a professional display, and could have finished with seven or eight goals.

Lots to think about before the next international meeting next year.

2. Marvellous Mount

Plenty of talk over the last week has revolved around England stars defending Mount's place in the side.

On the evidence on show against Iceland, it is doubtful they will have to do so again at the next international break.

Mount was superb in one of the central midfield roles, though largely left Rice to the defensive duties as he pushed high up the field when England were in possession to provide a constant threat.

His goal may have been somewhat fortuitous, falling nicely for him to sidestep the defender, but Mount had been involved heavily in the build-up – which was a fair reflection of his decent night's work.

3. Foden back in the fold

Phil Foden was given a chance to make amends against Iceland, having been sent home from the Three Lions camp after the last fixture between the teams.

The Man City midfielder was left out of the last squad due to the debacle in Reykjavik, but made his second start for his country.

He didn't take long to make his mark, either, swinging in a free-kick onto the head of Rice to put England ahead.

It was only for Iceland keeper Ogmundur Kristinsson that Foden didn't get on the scoresheet himself in the first half; but he finally had his moment towards the finish, scoring twice to turn England's win into a rout.

Foden's link-up play was the real plus point for Southgate though, as he consistently showed for the ball, and connected intricately with Mount and Grealish to keep England ticking.

Overall a performance to put him firmly back into regular contention.

4. Grealish must play

Three months ago Jack Grealish only got into England's squad for the first time because of an injury to Rashford.

But after three impressive performances on the bounce he has become virtually undroppable.

The Aston Villa skipper oozes confidence and looks dangerously unpredictable every time he gets on the ball; popping up in space all over the pitch, driving forward with purpose, creating chances.

Before this international break questions were raised on how Gareth Southgate can fit him into his XI.

Now he should be one of the first names on the teamsheet.

5. Maguire an asset in attack

A right-footed player on the left of a back three looks awkward. And it is. Which is not Harry Maguire's fault, per se.

No doubt he would rather be occupying the same role on the opposite flank with his favoured right boot.

Yes he plays on the left-hand side as part of a two for United. But it's not exactly natural.

Yet, somehow, against Iceland at least, it worked.

Maguire spent much of the first-half bursting into the opposition's third, joining the attack, and zipping punchy passes into his teammates in good areas.

One cross-field pass to Tripper was Beckham-esque, while Foden should have scored from Maguire's slicing through ball – and there was even an overlap from the big centre-half at one stage.

Southgate's still got to work out his favoured back line ahead of the Euros, but he may well have sorted two out of three.

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