Gareth Southgate hailed Ollie Watkins’ “fairytale” England debut after the Aston Villa striker scored in a 5-0 win towards San Marino in Thursday’s opening World Cup qualifier. Simply 4 years in the past, Watkins was taking part in in English soccer’s fourth tier with Exeter. The 25-year-old has loved a meteoric rise since then, becoming a member of Brentford in 2017 earlier than shifting to Villa final yr after ending as high scorer within the Championship. He has scored 12 occasions in his first marketing campaign with the Premier League membership, incomes a maiden England call-up and a debut towards minnows San Marino at Wembley.
With England 4 objectives up due to Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s brace, a primary worldwide purpose for James Ward-Prowse and Raheem Sterling’s strike, Watkins got here on after 63 minutes.
Arrange by Phil Foden’s go, Watkins scored along with his first shot in an England shirt with a cool low end.
Watkins’ beaming face and the jubilant celebrations of his team-mates underlined what a particular second it was for a participant who has needed to battle his solution to the highest.
England boss Southgate recognised the importance of the second, saying: “The very first thing you noticed was the response from the remainder of the workforce. That reveals you ways collectively they’re. They know what it means for him.
“He is settled in actually shortly with the group. He is a extremely humble boy and it was good to have the ability to give him half an hour or so. For him to get a purpose is fairytale is not it?”
Watkins as soon as spent half a season on mortgage at non-league Weston-Tremendous-Mare, making him all of the extra appreciative of his instantaneous success with England.
“It is unbelievable, it is what I’ve dreamt about to be sincere. I am speechless,” he stated.
“It has been an excellent journey. I simply really feel honoured that I can come out right here and pull on the shirt and get the possibility to play with the gamers I am taking part in with and even rating on my debut. I could not write it, I am over the moon.”
Watkins was the stand-out story on a snug evening for England, who would have gained by much more if not for a high quality show from San Marino keeper Elia Benedettini.
The San Marino match, Sunday’s journey to Albania and Poland’s go to to Wembley on Wednesday are all World Cup qualifiers, however they function very important warm-ups for the delayed Euro 2020, which begins in June.
Southgate’s fiftieth sport as England boss will not linger lengthy within the reminiscence given the paucity of the opposition, however he nonetheless learnt invaluable classes.
Calvert-Lewin’s predatory finishes had been instructive, whereas Jesse Lingard, Mason Mount and Ward-Prowse all caught the attention in midfield.
“I used to be actually happy with not solely the way in which we moved the ball shortly and the interchange of positions, however the way in which we pressed after we misplaced the ball highlighted the mentality of the workforce for the entire 90 minutes,” Southgate stated.
“Mason within the first half was glorious, set the tone. Good to see Jesse seem like he is having fun with his soccer once more, so I believed there have been loads of good issues.
“After all it is an opponent we should always beat however I believed they went about their job rather well.”
Mount picked out Ben Chilwell’s run into the penalty space and the left-back’s go was confidently transformed by Ward-Prowse within the 14th minute.
Calvert-Lewin doubled England’s lead within the twenty first minute because the Everton striker met Reece James’ cross with a scientific far submit header.
Teed up by the influential Mount within the thirty first minute, Sterling acquired the third when he weaved into the six-yard field for a shot that deflected in off Dante Carlos Rossi.
England had been properly on high however they settled for simply two extra objectives after the break.
Within the 53rd minute, Lingard’s cross was swept residence by Calvert-Lewin and with seven minutes left Watkins drilled into the far nook.