Jos Buttler decided it was time to "take the shackles off and play with a smile on my face" as his counter-attacking knock raised England's spirits after a batting collapse on day one of the fifth Ashes Test.

Recalled Australia all-rounder Mitchell Marsh took 4-35 as England - attempting to salvage a 2-2 series result now they have no chance of regaining the urn - collapsed from 170-3 to 226-8 in a dramatic final session on a sunny Thursday at The Oval.

It looked as though it might be England's day with the tourists dropping Joe Root three times, but they crumbled after Pat Cummins bowled their captain for 57.

Buttler then switched into one-day mode to make an unbeaten 64, smashing Josh Hazlewood for three sixes with Jack Leach digging in at the other end to ensure England closed on 271-8 after being put in by Tim Paine.

The aggressive Buttler, who passed 7,000 runs international runs in all formats, has endured a disappointing series with the bat and felt it was time to take a more aggressive approach.

"It's nice to contribute a little bit. The boys batted really well in the morning and we got ourselves into a fantastic position but could not capitalise," Buttler told Test Match Special.

"Both sides are feeling a long series with a quick turnaround between Tests, so that's why the intensity goes up and down.

"Australia are a really good bowling attack and asked questions all day. It's frustrating for us not being able to capitalise on our start.

"With the new ball not being far away, I thought it was the best time to go for it and I was just trying to have some fun too.

"Batting has been hard work and not enjoyable this series so I wanted to take the shackles off and play with a smile on my face."

Mitchell Marsh admitted he was like a "kid at Christmas" ahead of day one at The Oval before taking advantage of his recall to put Australia on top in the fifth Ashes Test against England.

All-rounder Marsh, selected for his first appearance of the series ahead of vice-captain Travis Head, took 4-35 as England collapsed from 170-3 to 226-8 after tea.

Pat Cummins (2-73) and Josh Hazlewood (2-76) also did damage on the opening day after Tim Paine won the toss and opted to bowl as the tourists - who retained the urn by taking a 2-1 lead at Old Trafford last weekend - strive to secure a series win.

Joe Root was dropped three times before he was out for 57 and Jos Buttler smashed a counter-attacking unbeaten 64 to leave England on 271-8 at stumps on Thursday.

Marsh, able to return to the field after suffering cramp in the final session, revelled in his return to the Test arena.

"I probably haven't bowled a spell that long ever really. I was pretty fired up but unfortunately the sniper got me again!" Marsh, who had only previously taken four wickets once in a Test innings, told Sky Sports.

"I was like a kid at Christmas this morning, I was so excited. It can be a long tour if you're not playing, my goal has been to create as much energy as I can for this team when I'm not playing and I just wanted to get an opportunity at some stage and it was nice to chip in today.

"It probably could have been a lot less than 271-8 if we'd held our catches early on. We spoke about coming here and wanting to win 3-1, it probably didn't reflect on our first session. You drop catches sometimes and we'll take 271 on that.

"I swung the ball most of the day which helped with my control, I've been working in the background, making sure I was ready for it. I just wanted to come in today and take a few wickets.

"These guys have bowled so many overs, so I saw it as my role to help them out a little bit."

Recalled all-rounder Mitchell Marsh claimed four wickets as England collapsed before Jos Buttler made a counter-attacking unbeaten half-century to frustrate Australia on day one the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

England, attempting to salvage a 2-2 draw, were in a promising position on 170-3 after Tim Paine surprisingly asked them to bat first on a sunny Thursday in London.

Joe Root was dropped three times but England crumbled after the captain - who passed 7000 Test runs - was dismissed by the excellent Pat Cummins for 57, losing five wickets for 56 runs to slump to 226-8.

Marsh, playing his first match of the series at the expense of Travis Head, took 4-35, while the excellent Cummins and Josh Hazlewood claimed two wickets apiece to put the tourists on top as they eye a 3-1 victory.

Buttler (64 not out) then went on the attack - with support from Jack Leach - in a frantic final session, which England ended on 271-8 - having been 103-1 just after lunch.

A juggling Steve Smith caught Joe Denly (14) at the third attempt to end an opening stand of 27 - the highest of the series - and Cummins (2-73) should have had a second wicket when the recalled Peter Siddle put Root down on 24 at deep backward square-leg.

Root had just another run to his name when he was spilled by Paine after Cummins drew an edge and the skipper was on 30 when Smith dropped a tough chance diving to his right at second slip, Siddle the unfortunate bowler on that occasion.

England's premier batsman drove Hazlewood (2-76) for four to reach a notable personal milestone after lunch but Rory Burns tamely top-edged the same bowler to Marsh at mid-on, having struck seven boundaries in an otherwise assured knock.

Ben Stokes, playing as a specialist batsman due to a shoulder injury, gifted a first wicket to Marsh attempting to pull the all-rounder but ballooning to Nathan Lyon for 20 and there was no reprieve for Root when Cummins bowled him with a top-class delivery after tea.

Marsh trapped Jonny Bairstow (22) in front on the full with a yorker and seeing the back of Sam Curran, who hooked Cummins for six and could not take advantage of being called back after the paceman overstepped when he snared him lbw.

The impressive Marsh also removed Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer edged Hazlewood behind as England fell to pieces, but Buttler went into one-day mode with Leach digging in.

Buttler was struck by a short ball from Hazlewood before hitting the quick for three sixes - the third taking him to a half-century - and brought out the reverse sweep as Leach (10no) stood firm at the other end in an unbroken stand of 45.

 

MARSH MAKES HIS MARK, CUMMINS RELENTLESS

The probing Marsh and a relentless Cummins put Australia in the ascendancy with potent bursts early in the final session, the former generating swing and executing the yorker superbly as he took 3-17 in an eight-over spell after tea.

Marsh pulled up with cramp but was able to return after leaving the field, while the hostile Cummins was his usual outstanding self, charging in for 22.5 overs just four days after putting in such a big shift on the final day of the win in Manchester.

BUTTLER DELIVERS, LEACH MAKES CASE FOR THE DEFENCE

Buttler showed resilience with England battling to try and force a draw on a tense last day at Old Trafford, but played his natural game when he was in danger of running out of partners.

He clattered Hazlewood over the ropes down the ground twice and hooked him for another six to lift the spirits of England fans, while Leach was solid in defence in a frustrating end to the day for Australia.

MOMENT OF THE DAY

Cummins has been outstanding for the tourists throughout the series and conjured up another pearler to remove Root, who lost his off stump caught on the crease after being removed in similar fashion by the quick in the second innings of the fourth Test.

OPTA FACTS

- Marsh has four wickets in an innings for just the second time in his Test career, the other occasion coming when he took 4-61 against West Indies in December 2015.

- Buttler has moved past 7000 runs in all formats for England.

- Root has failed to convert any of his last nine Ashes half-centuries into a hundred.

Australia took two wickets in the afternoon session but England captain Joe Root had an unbeaten half-century at tea after being dropped three times on day one of the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval.

England, unable to regain the urn but attempting to salvage a 2-2 draw, were 86-1 at lunch with Joe Denly falling to Pat Cummins for just 14 after Tim Paine won the toss and surprisingly opted to bowl.

Josh Hazlewood dismissed Rory Burns (47) while Mitchell Marsh - in for Travis Head - sent Ben Stokes (20) back to the pavilion, but Root (57 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (22no) saw England through to 169-3 at tea.

Root was given three lives by the sloppy tourists, who took a 2-1 lead with victory at Old Trafford, as he passed 7,000 Test runs on a good pitch under blue skies in London. 

A juggling Smith caught Denly at the third attempt to end an opening stand of 27 - the highest of the series - and the excellent Cummins should have had a second wicket when the recalled Peter Siddle put Root down on 24 at deep backward square-leg.

Root had just another run to his name when he was spilled by wicketkeeper Paine after Cummins drew an edge, while the home skipper was on 30 when Smith dropped a tough chance diving to his right at second slip, Siddle the unfortunate bowler on that occasion.

England's premier batsman drove Hazlewood for four to reach a notable personal milestone after lunch and Burns looked well set before he tamely top-edged the same bowler to Marsh at mid on, having struck seven boundaries in an otherwise assured knock.

Stokes, playing as a specialist batsman due to a shoulder injury, struck Cummins for back-to-back boundaries before gifting a wicket to Marsh, attempting to pull the all-rounder but ballooning to Nathan Lyon for 20.

Bairstow started positively with two fours off as many balls from Siddle - preferred to Mitchell Starc - and Root reached 50 as the Yorkshire duo combined for an unbroken stand of 39.

Joe Root was let off the hook by Peter Siddle and Tim Paine as England made a positive start to the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

Siddle, brought back into Australia's side at the expense of Mitchell Starc, should have dismissed England's captain on 24 but put down a simple catch at deep square leg.

The Yorkshireman's wicket would have been a vital one for Australia, with the visitors having struggled to test Root, who moved to 28 not out, or Rory Burns (42 no) following Joe Denly's dismissal.

Australia captain Paine also dropped his English counterpart, failing to hold onto a diving, one-handed attempt as England made it to lunch on 86-1.

Put into bat by Paine, England's Burns and Denly accumulated 27-0 by the end of the eighth over - the highest opening partnership of the series so far.

Things would have been different if in-form Burns had not successfully reviewed Marais Erasmus' leg before wicket decision in the fourth over, though Denly (14) was dismissed five overs later when he edged Pat Cummins to Steve Smith, who held on at the second attempt.

Root swiftly got about his business, clipping Siddle for two boundaries, while Burns fended off Mitchell Marsh.

Cummins bowled Root for a golden duck at Old Trafford, and the world's number one Test bowler should have had his wicket again.

A short ball drew Root into a poor hook shot, but Siddle failed to hold on in the outfield, and Cummins was frustrated once more in his next over.

Root flashed recklessly outside off stump, only for Paine - moving across David Warner at first slip - to attempt an acrobatic catch which went down as England held firm to survive the session.

Mitchell Starc dropped out of Australia's team for the final Ashes Test, with Tim Paine's visitors making two changes.

Australia arrived at The Oval with the Ashes already secure following their 185-run victory at Old Trafford, which gave them a 2-1 series lead.

Having impressed in tour matches, Starc came into the line-up in Manchester, replacing James Pattinson.

However, the 29-year-old paceman - who scored an unbeaten 54 in the fourth Test and took four wickets - did not made the cut for the match that began in London on Thursday, with Australia selecting Peter Siddle instead.

The other change to Australia's side saw Mitchell Marsh replace Travis Head, a switch Paine had revealed in his pre-match news conference on Wednesday.

Paine won the toss on Thursday, electing to bowl first.

Australia team for final Ashes Test: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (captain, wk), Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

Gareth Southgate has welcomed Raheem Sterling becoming a star player for England and hailed the forward's increasing influence on and off the pitch.

Sterling initially struggled to turn his club form for Manchester City into high-level performances for the Three Lions, regularly facing strong criticism over his performances.

He branded himself "The Hated One" in a post on social media while enduring a difficult time during England's unsuccessful Euro 2016 campaign.

Since then, however, Sterling has grown to play a key role for England with a stunning run of eight goals in his past eight appearances demonstrating his importance for Southgate's side.

Sterling equalised in Tuesday's 5-3 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Kosovo and created a further three goals, including providing assists for both of Jadon Sancho's maiden international goals.

The attacker has also become a social figurehead, drawing praise for speaking out over racism and going viral for his interactions with supporters, with manager Southgate delighted to have a front-row seat to Sterling's continued rise to superstardom.

"For me, it's lovely to see the shift in the public opinion of him," Southgate said of the 24-year-old.

"That's still a brave thing to decide that: 'Right, I'm going to own that space and I'm going to put my own views across'. But those views represent many as well, so I think he's aware of the power of his voice, but he also doesn't waste it.

"I think he was very forthright in his social media posts [about racism]. I think he raised everybody's awareness and made us all think, which was very mature and impressive. And, at the same time, he rose to the challenge with his club, with new signings coming in.

"You know, when you are at a club like that, to keep fighting off the quality of players that he has; and straight away with us, got the goals in Spain - first game after the World Cup for him, really. Croatia away, Spain. I think it was such a huge weight lifted for him, he almost jumped six foot in the stadium, didn't he? 

"So I think from that moment - because he did come home a bit sad after the World Cup, there's no hiding from that. He didn't deserve to feel that way, but that's as he was, so it's lovely to see the recognition he's getting and how much extra I think that's bringing out of him.

"If there are things that he thinks can be better with the mentality of the players or the way that we've set the week out, he'll thoughtfully put ideas across; he doesn't just sit and complain.

"But then you see his interaction with the players. I noticed, over the last 24 hours especially [prior to facing Kosovo], he spent a lot of time with Jadon, I think that was probably quite a comfort.

"He can pass things on that I can speak [about] as the coach, but there'll be more depth to that if your fellow winger who has been at the same club as you, and has been through what you’re going to go through can talk to you. I think that's far more powerful. You can't quantify what that will have meant for Jadon."

Asked how Sterling will have felt to have been made a scapegoat earlier in his international career, Southgate said: "Difficult for me to say. I can only imagine. Everyone wants to be liked, don't they?

"Everybody, players give their all. He's a player that has always given his all… You know how much it means to him, how much he wants to do well.

"So, I think it's for him to reflect on how he might have felt then and, for me, it's just lovely to see a young man establishing himself, at the real top table in the game."

Southgate indicated he also sees an England future for Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, who qualifies to play for Nigeria in addition to the Three Lions.

"Tammy is a young player that we’ve always liked, we know he'll score goals," he said. "We felt it was a bit early this time to call him up, but we really can see that he can offer us something moving forward.

"We gave him a cap back in November of 2017. For sure, we need to make certain that he feels that the opportunity is going to be there. I'm pretty sure he does, he knows us well enough."

Australia will attempt to rub salt in England's wounds by securing a first Ashes series away win since 2001 at The Oval.

The tourists retained the urn with an 185-run victory at Old Trafford last Sunday, which gave them a 2-1 lead with just one match to play.

You have to go back 18 years for Australia's last series triumph in England, but that wait will end if they avoid defeat in London.

We pick out a selection of Opta numbers ahead of the final Test of the series, which starts on Thursday.

 

- Australia come into this game at The Oval having retained the Ashes for the first time since the 2002-03 series.

- The tourists are looking first for a first away Test series success since February 2016.

- England will be striving to avoid their first Test series defeat on home soil since June 2014; that series loss coming against Sri Lanka (0-1).

- England have not suffered back-to-back home Test losses since South Africa won two in a row 11 years ago. They have only managed one victory in their last 10 Test contests with Australia.

- Australia have only claimed three wins in their last 18 attempts in Tests at The Oval, losing six and drawing nine.Their win at the London ground was in 2015.

- England have registered back-to-back Test victories at The Oval. They have not managed to record three on the bounce there since putting together a four-game winning run from 1966 to 1969.

- Stuart Broad has got David Warner out 11 times in Test cricket, the joint-most instances he's removed a batsman (level with Michael Clarke). He has dismissed Warner in six of his eight knocks in this series, at the price of only 32 runs.

Mitchell Marsh has been preferred to vice-captain Travis Head in the only change to Australia's squad for the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

All-rounder Marsh will make his first appearance of the series against England as the tourists strive to win the series after going 2-1 up to retain the urn at Old Trafford last weekend.

Batsman Head has made just one half-century in the series and captain Tim Paine says Marsh was selected to ease the bowlers' workload.

"Looking at the conditions and the series being a long and tough one, we've kept the bowling group that was together for the last Test match.

"They've bowled a lot of overs and we feel that bringing Mitchell in will ease a little bit of the workload on them.

"It was a really tough call on Travis Head, who's had a great start to his Test career but we wanted a bit more bowling depth in the squad to cover what looks like a really good wicket and to be able to look after our big, fast bowlers.

"Mitchell Marsh has also had a couple of hundreds in Test cricket so we've got full faith in him doing the job with the bat as well."

Paine added: "The reason Travis isn't playing is because we felt like we needed a little bit of extra bowling at the end of a long series.

"Mitch Marsh is our all-rounder and like we have with our bowlers, it's not necessarily Travis being dropped.

"We've been really clear with Travis on why he's not playing this game. He's had a fantastic start [to his Test career], he's played nine or 10 Tests and has got a very healthy average but we want to get the make up right to win this Test match.

"Unfortunately we had to make a really tough call on someone and it happened to be Travis. He's a huge part of Australian cricket future, he's a gun young player and he's getting better all the time.

"It's disappointing for him he's not playing in this Test match. He'd dearly love to, obviously, but we'll go back to Australia, conditions will be different. There's no doubt he's in the top six or seven batsmen in our country."

England replaced Jason Roy and Craig Overton with Sam Curran and Chris Woakes for the fifth Test, which starts on Thursday.


Australia squad for fifth Ashes Test: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

Joe Root insists Jason Roy has not reached the end of the road in his Test career after the batsman was dropped by England for the final Ashes match against Australia.

Roy came into England's squad for the Ashes on the back of an impressive World Cup, but the 29-year-old - who opened the batting for the first three Tests before dropping to number four at Old Trafford - has failed to recapture the form he has shown in one-day cricket.

With all-rounder Ben Stokes having sustained a shoulder injury in the fourth Test, England have brought in Sam Curran as an extra bowler. That meant Roy, who accumulated just 110 runs from eight innings, misses out, while Chris Woakes has replaced Craig Overton.

Root, however, has no doubt Roy will work on improving his game in order to force his way back into consideration ahead of England's tour of New Zealand in November.

"It's always tough to leave guys out, but Stokesy suffered a shoulder injury in the last game and won't be able to bowl the overs you'd normally expect him to, and with that we've had to change the balance of the side," Root told a news conference.

"Jason's the unfortunate one to miss out. He's had an opportunity to come in and play Test cricket, get a feel for it.

"It's not quite gone how he would have liked but I’m sure he’ll go away, work extremely hard and come again and that’s what you'd expect of guys when they get left out.

"I'm sure he'll have that attitude, want to prove a point and get himself back into the side."

"Yes," Root said, when asked if he had spoken to Roy, who made his Test debut against Ireland in July.

"When you leave someone out you obviously have those conversations, and he’s very aware of where he's at and what he needs to do to get himself to the best place to perform in Test cricket."

Outgoing England coach Trevor Bayliss said on Tuesday that, despite media speculation, there was "no pressure" on Root's position as captain despite the team's failure to regain the Ashes.

And the Yorkshire batsman is adamant his side have plenty to play for heading into the final Test at The Oval.

"[It was] bitterly disappointing to not have got the Ashes back, but we haven't lost anything yet, we've got to make sure we square the series up and there's Test Championship points to play for as well which could make a huge difference," Root said.

"There's plenty to play for, the guys are very aware of that and determined to make sure we make the series 2-2.

"In terms of my own captaincy, I know the direction I want to take this team in and it's about starting that now, not after this series. We need to use this as a stepping stone, win this game, have a really strong winter and move forward as a group."

Jason Roy has been dropped from England's side for the final Ashes Test at The Oval after his poor form throughout the series, with Ben Stokes passed fit to bat.

Roy has failed to establish himself, either as an opener alongside Rory Burns or when switched to number four for the Old Trafford Test.

The 29-year-old's highest score came in Manchester, when he made 31 as England desperately attempted to keep the series alive, to no avail, and Roy has now made way for Sam Curran.

Craig Overton proved resilient with the bat in England's second innings at Old Trafford before he was eventually dismissed by Josh Hazlewood, but the Somerset bowler has been replaced by Chris Woakes.

Stokes will play as a specialist batsman, with the all-rounder unable to bowl due to a shoulder injury.

Australia captain Tim Paine confirmed one change to his 12-man squad, with Mitchell Marsh replacing Travis Head.

England team for fifth Ashes Test: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes.

Steve Borthwick has confirmed Joe Launchbury and Henry Slade will be fit to feature in England's opening Rugby World Cup match.

Launchbury sustained a knock in England's final warm-up fixture against Italy, while head coach Eddie Jones was without Slade for all of the preparation games as the centre recovered from a knee injury.

However, the duo will be able to take part in England's World Cup opener against Tonga on September 22, meaning Jones will have 29 of his 31-man squad available for selection.

Mako Vunipola and Jack Nowell will still be missing, with both players expected to be out for at least the first two pool-stage matches.

"Mako and Jack Nowell will be back in the latter part of the group stages," forwards coach Borthwick told reporters following the squad's arrival in Japan.

"Slade is looking, very, very good. Joe Launchbury came off with a back injury at the weekend, but there's nothing concerning there.

"Joe will recover from the flight and will be good to go. While Mako and Jack are unavailable, Slade is on track."

England's travel plans were disrupted due to a typhoon, but Borthwick - who was an assistant to Jones during his stint as Japan head coach - says the squad are in fine spirits despite the delay.

"There was a bit of disruption, but people were very good around the airport. They gave us access to the lounge because they knew we'd been held up," Borthwick said.

"We stayed on the plane for a period of time and then went into the lounge.

"There was also a little delay outside at the airport so the boys started an impromptu game of cricket. It was good, but I didn't have an innings."

After facing Tonga, England - who crashed out of the 2015 World Cup at the first hurdle - will go up against the United States, Argentina and France in Pool C.

Tim Paine is not planning to bow out as Australia captain in the wake of his side retaining the Ashes.

Australia retained the urn thanks to their 185-run victory in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, handing the visitors an unassailable 2-1 lead.

There is still plenty to play for at The Oval, however, with England needing a victory to avoid a first Ashes series defeat on home soil in 18 years.

Paine's captaincy has come under scrutiny at times throughout the tour, particularly with former skipper Steve Smith - who was replaced by the wicketkeeper following the 2018 ball-tampering scandal - having been in such inspired form.

But having guided Australia through a difficult 18 months, Paine is in no mood to relinquish his leadership duties, even though an Ashes win would ensure his legacy would be firmly intact.

"Not for me, not at the moment," Paine, whose international career was halted by a mixture of injuries and rivals keeping him out of the team, told reporters at The Oval when asked if he might call time on his tenure at the end of the series.

"I'm loving doing what I'm doing, and I think while you've got a job that you love you try and do it for as long as you can.

"I did miss a lot, I suppose, in the prime years of my cricket career. The positive of that now is that physically I'm in really good condition for my age and feel really good after Test matches physically.

"Mentally, it's a different story but it only takes a day to recover from that. While I keep enjoying it, I'll keep doing it."

The 34-year-old was asked if the end of the ICC Test Championship cycle in the middle of 2021 would be an ideal signing-off point, but Paine insisted he is not planning so far ahead.

"I haven't thought about it to be honest," Paine said.

"I haven't thought much past this Test match, as I've said in the last 18 months, I think it's foolish at my age if you do.

"I'm enjoying what I'm doing and whilst I can continue to contribute in some way, I'll continue to do it.

"I constantly talk to Justin Langer and [selection chair] Trevor Hohns about what might happen or how long I might go on for, but I think we're all comfortable and we're all on the same page."

Gareth Southgate believes Raheem Sterling has been close to "unstoppable" after his dazzling display in England's entertaining 5-3 win over Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Sterling scored and set up three others as England came from a goal down at St Mary's Stadium to preserve their 100 per cent record in Group A on Tuesday.

England conceded inside 34 seconds but Sterling restored parity before the Manchester City star teed up Harry Kane and providing the assists for Jadon Sancho's brace.

Sterling's performance came after he scored and supplied two assists for Kane in England's 4-0 rout of Bulgaria last week, and manager Southgate heaped praise on the in-form 24-year-old.

"Our attacking play from Raheem, Jadon and Harry was outstanding," Southgate said. "Raheem's two performances have been of the highest level. 

"I think he's been almost unstoppable, his awareness of where defenders were, his ability to ride challenges, his vision and desire to get in on goal, and unselfish play as well, so I couldn't speak highly enough of the way he played."

It was a memorable outing for Sancho in Southampton, where the Borussia Dortmund sensation scored his first England goals.

"Jadon – you know we were talking about the three on Saturday – Jadon's performance was at that level as well. He worked really hard for the team without the ball and showed the ability he has to go past people, to be calm in tight areas," Southgate said.

"So, that part of our game was absolutely outstanding. We continued that threat for most of the game."

While England made it four wins from four games to be three points clear atop Group A, the Three Lions were far from convincing defensively against Kosovo.

Errors saw England concede three goals to the visiting minnows and Southgate added: "It was bizarre. The outstanding features and the poor features are apparent to everybody, so we don't need to get the video out and go back through it.

"Poor individual mistakes, a poor start to the game. I like the way we showed the composure to recover from that initial mistake and our use of the ball throughout the first half was excellent, right the way through the team.

"The small period after half-time: ridiculous mistakes, poor decisions, lack of covering back. So, we made the game really uncomfortable for ourselves. There were obviously mistakes that were concerning. Whether it was the intensity of the game, whether it was the pressure, I don't know. We've got to reflect on that but they were such basic errors, really, that you have to learn from. We just made some crazy errors."

Gareth Southgate accepted England made poor defensive mistakes in Tuesday's thrilling 5-3 defeat of Kosovo and demanded his side improve.

Raheem Sterling shone with a goal and three assists as England came from behind in an entertaining clash in Southampton.

Jadon Sancho struck his first international goals, with Harry Kane also on target, although the usually impeccable Three Lions captain failed to convert a second-half penalty.

Kosovo, though, forced regular mistakes from the Nations League semi-finalists, including in the first minute when a Michael Keane lapse led to Valon Berisha's opener.

Berisha would later profit again after Declan Rice gave the ball away too easily, while a Harry Maguire challenge resulted in Vedat Muriqi scoring a spot-kick.

England ultimately had too much firepower thanks to Sterling and Sancho but Southgate was under no illusions about the work to do in defence.

"It had its moments! A bizarre game really," Southgate told ITV after England extended their 100 per cent record in Group A.

"There were obvious poor errors for goals but I'm really pleased with the composure we showed.

"We had devastating attacking play throughout and we used the ball well.

"The mistakes were obvious, the errors, we have to be better. The players don't need me to tell them that.

"The outstanding parts of our play were obvious, the errors were obvious."

England return to action next month with away trips to the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

Page 3 of 103
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.