What a night it was at Wembley as England completely thrashed the Czech Republic by 5 goals to nil in their first qualification game for the 2020 European Championships. Both Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ross Barkley started on the bench, but would go on to make some decisive contributions to the scoreline.
The game got off to a quick start as England immediately exerted their dominance on the guests by putting them under constant pressure. One onslaught after another came firing at the guests over both Sterling and Sancho, with specifically the latter and Kyle Walker combining well on the right. The Dortmund man generally had very lively performance and proved exactly why he’s got to be a certain starter for England right now.
England needed to be patient initially as they had problems breaking down a very compact Czech defense, with Tomáš Kalas starting as one of the centre-backs for the guests. The hosts nevertheless dominated the game and looked like a dangerous, well oiled machine despite the team’s young age. Jaroslav Silhavy’s men weren’t able to get out of their own half for the most part and even struggled to string together a few passes.
When Tottenham’s Eric Dier had to come off in the 17th minute due to a nasty challenge from Tomas Soucek, Ross Barkley was surprisingly introduced to the game after everyone had expected Declan Rice, who had been the one warming up, to come on. Gareth Southgate’s decision was a good one, however, as the Chelsea man brought more of an attacking threat to the table, creating spaces for his team mates to run in.
And then it happened; England finally broke the deadlock as Barkley played an intelligent pass around the corner to Kane who picked out Sancho brilliantly, who then again squared it to an unmarked Sterling waiting in front of goal. In short, Ross created somewhat of a pre-pre assist and continued to do well, especially defensively. 1-0 England.
Southgate’s men went on to play some fantastic football for the rest of the half, though it has to be said that they were met with very little resistance. When the Czechs did try to come at England over the flanks, Chillwell and Walker never gave them an inch, constantly harassing their opponents off the ball. Even the guest’s star player, Roma’s Patrik Schick, got barely any service up front and was nothing more than a passenger for the first 45 minutes.
When it seemed certain that England would end the half with only a single goal to their name, Raheem Sterling was brought down in the box on the stroke of halftime. While one can debate whether or not the winger was going to get to the ball, he was clearly brought down by two Czech defenders and the referee rightfully pointed to the spot. Kane took no chances and coolly slotted home from the spot to double the lead. 2-0 England.
After the break, the Czechs tried to add some fire power to their non-existent attack by bringing on Derby County striker Matej Vydra. Their change of system to a 4-4-2 nearly came off and the guests came close on several occasions in the opening 10 minutes of the second half. England’s defense was all over the place briefly and only had some bad finishing from the Czech strikers and Pickford to thank that their lead wasn’t halved.
Jaden Sancho didn’t let this influence him, however, and continued to create some moments of brilliance, nearly making it 3-0 in the 59th minute after some intricate play saw Kane cut the ball back to the Dortmund attacker. England reaped the rewards of their resurgence in the 61st minute when Sterling showed great composure to turn and curl it past Pavlenka. 3-0 England. The Manchester City man then even completed his hattrick only 7 minutes later and this time Ross Barkley even recorded the assist. 4-0 England.
By now, the game was well and truly over and some debuts were on the cards. First, Declan Rice made his (from an Irish perspective, controversial) England debut; but then came the moment every Chelsea fan was waiting for: Callum Hudson-Odoi was ready to come on in the 70th minute as Sterling made way after a terrific performance.
England went on to further dominate the game and, as if things weren’t already perfect enough, Hudson-Odoi topped things off by (kind of) scoring. After some neat foot work by the Chelsea winger, he curled a shot on target which Pavlenka was only able to parry onto his own man and off into the net. Unfortunately, that particular guy was Tomáš Kalas who ultimately had a horrid night going up against a rampant English attack. 5-0 England.
Apart from a brief injury scare to Hudson-Odoi shortly before full time, the hosts ended the game winning by 5 goals to nil, and did so in emphatic fashion. From a Chelsea perspective, the game couldn’t have gone much better; Hudson-Odoi got his deserved debut and a pseudo-goal while Barkley played reasonably well after coming on, even recording an assist in the process. Both will have done their chances of playing against Montenegro no harm so we should certainly be excited for Monday.