Southgate hails ruthless Saka after stunning England strike

By Sports Desk March 26, 2023

Gareth Southgate praised the ruthlessness of Bukayo Saka after his starring role in England's 2-0 win over Ukraine.

England made it six points from two Euro 2024 qualifiers with a routine win at Wembley on Sunday.

Saka, a leading light in Arsenal's challenge for the Premier League title, supplied the assist for Harry Kane's opener in the 37th minute.

He then made it 2-0 three minutes later by bending a magnificent long-range strike into the top-right corner, his eighth goal for the Three Lions.

"It is a top-level finish [from Saka]," Southgate told Channel 4. 

"That is the ruthless part he has added to his game in the last 18 months or so. There were times you weren't sure he was going to finish, but now he has that confidence in front of goal."

England were in control throughout, with Ukraine never looking likely to produce a comeback in a game where they did not manage a shot on target.

The command England enjoyed naturally delighted Southgate, who also had plaudits for James Maddison, the Leicester City playmaker creating five chances in an impressive showing.

"The risk is that when you have control of the game you have the odd sloppy pass, but the application throughout was excellent," added Southgate.

"We have broken down a lot of barriers over a period of time. We still had that question mark over some of the bigger teams. 

"We are starting to win those games now but there is still lots of room for improvement. 

"To back up the Italy result was important, but there is still room to grow."

"We are always trying to think about now and what is next. We did that with James Maddison today. We thought it was a good game to see him.

"He was defensively very solid. It was nice to get Ivan Toney on the pitch as well. We will always look at people, but we have to qualify and we can't take that for granted."

Related items

  • Rennes make top four, Nantes survive and Auxerre relegated on Ligue 1 final day Rennes make top four, Nantes survive and Auxerre relegated on Ligue 1 final day

    Rennes edged out Lille and Monaco to secure a top-four finish while Nantes' first league win since February saw them stay up at Auxerre's expense on a dramatic final day of Ligue 1 action.

    Rennes clinched a 2-1 victory against Brest thanks to a Benjamin Bourigeaud brace, seizing on Lille's 1-1 draw with relegated Troyes and Monaco's 2-1 reverse against Toulouse to take fourth.

    Bruno Genesio's side thus secured Europa League football for next season, while Paulo Fonseca's Lille must settle for a Europa Conference League spot and Monaco missed out entirely.

    Champions Paris Saint-Germain squandered a two-goal lead in a 3-2 loss to Clermont, meaning they finished just one point clear of runners-up Lens, who ended the season with a 3-1 win at Auxerre.

    That victory allowed Nantes to finalise a great escape in their final game, vaulting Auxerre to secure safety with a 1-0 win over relegated Angers.

    Nantes therefore secured top-flight football for another year, evading the expanded four-team relegation zone by a single point ahead of the division being cut to 18 teams.

    Auxerre, Ajaccio, Troyes and Angers will play in Ligue 2 next season, with Le Havre and either Metz or Bordeaux coming up from the second tier.

  • Lionel Messi’s final game for Paris St Germain ends in defeat to Clermont Lionel Messi’s final game for Paris St Germain ends in defeat to Clermont

    Lionel Messi ended his Paris St Germain career with a 3-2 defeat to Clermont.

    The Argentinian World Cup winner will quit Paris this summer having already been linked with a return to Barcelona and Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal next season.

    He will leave as a Ligue 1 champion with PSG having already secured the title before blowing a 2-0 lead to lose on the final day of the season.

    Sergio Ramos, on his final appearance for the club, and Kylian Mbappe’s penalty gave the hosts control.

    Johan Gastien pulled a goal back and Mehdi Zeffane levelled in first-half stoppage time. Grejohn Kyei gave the visitors the lead after 63 minutes and Clermont held out for victory.

    At the bottom, Nantes beat the drop by a point on the final day as Auxerre were relegated.

    A 1-0 win over rock-bottom Angers, thanks to Ignatius Ganago’s goal, gave Nantes the win they needed as Auxerre lost 3-1 at home to Lens.

    Alexis Claude-Maurice’s double gave Lens a 2-0 lead before M’Baye Niang pulled a goal back. Lois Openda made it 3-1 with 12 minutes left to seal Auxerre’s fate.

    Rennes won 2-1 at Brest as they clinched fourth ahead of Lille thanks to Benjamin Bourigeaud’s double, with Lille held 1-1 by relegated Troyes to go into the Europa Conference League qualifiers.

    Monaco missed out on the top five after a 2-1 defeat at home to Toulouse.

    Relegated Ajaccio beat third-placed Marseille 1-0, Lorient beat Strasbourg 2-1 and Nice beat Lyon 3-1 with mid-table Montpellier winning 3-1 at Reims, finishing a point behind their hosts.

    In Germany, Chelsea-bound Christopher Nkunku opened the scoring as RB Leipzig beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in the German Cup final.

    The striker broke the deadlock in the 71st minute before Dominik Szoboszlai doubled the lead with five minutes left.

    In Italy, Lazio sealed second spot in Serie A after a 2-0 win at Empoli thanks to goals from Alessio Romagnoli and Luis Alberto.

    It came after Marcelo Brozovic scored the winner as Inter Milan beat Torino 1-0 to briefly move ahead of them but Inter must now settle for third.

    Already relegated Cremonese beat Salernitana 2-0 to finish their season on a high.

  • Paris Saint-Germain 2-3 Clermont: Messi and Ramos denied winning send-off as visitors fight back Paris Saint-Germain 2-3 Clermont: Messi and Ramos denied winning send-off as visitors fight back

    Paris Saint-Germain failed to muster a winning send-off for Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos as they ended the Ligue 1 season by squandering a two-goal lead in a 3-2 loss against Clermont.

    Early goals for the Spaniard and Kylian Mbappe put the champions on top at Parc des Princes, before Johan Gastien, Mehdi Zeffane and Grejohn Kyei completed a stirring comeback from the visitors.

    It was a damp last note for ex-LaLiga heroes Messi and Ramos, who leave Paris as two-time league champions but without having won supporters' hearts – with Messi booed ahead of kick-off.

    Likewise, it may prove a dour final chapter for coach Christophe Galtier, who is widely tipped to depart despite leading PSG to a record 11th league title. 

    PSG, who wore shirts adorned with the name of injured team-mate Sergio Rico in the first half, needed VAR to rescue them after Kyei prodded home an early finish.

    The hosts promptly seized control, with Ramos netting a farewell header from Vitinha's delivery before Mbappe doubled their lead with an excellent penalty following Alidu Seidu's foul on Achraf Hakimi.

    Clermont refused to fold though, with Gastien capitalising on Marco Verratti's mistake to halve the arrears and Zeffane bundling in a leveller either side of Kyei putting a spot-kick wide in a thrilling first half.

    Messi, who misfired on his farewell, spurned a chance to finish Mbappe's square ball after the restart before Kyei nosed the visitors in front with a close-range finish.

    PSG continued to toil for an equaliser in the closing stages and Messi almost stole a point in the final minute of injury time, only for goalkeeper Mory Diaw to stop his direct free-kick with an acrobatic save.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.