Read more Southgate had suggested the 19-year-olds gifts go under the radar in England as they light up the Bundesliga on a regular basis and not the Premier League. That view must be revised after his impact on a chaotic evening in Southampton. This was Sterlings night, with the Manchester City forward delivering another supreme show of devastating creativity, but Sancho drew inspiration from his former club colleague. He was in my room at 10.30 last night begging me to square one, Sterling revealed afterwards. He squared two to help Sancho – at 19 years and 169 days – become the youngest player to score more than once in a game for England since Wayne Rooney against Croatia in 2004. The standing ovation he received when replaced by Marcus Rashford late on confirmed he flies under no ones radar in England any more. Here he brought a potency to the England attack that the Manchester United forward, for all his qualities, is yet to translate on to the international stage. The contest between the two should make for compelling viewing in the build-up to Euro 2020.
Southgate ranked Rashford, Sterling and Harry Kane among the finest forward lines in international football after the defeat of Bulgaria on Saturday, when their varying attributes again coalesced into a potent unit. But with only seven matches remaining before having to name his squad for the Euros – it is probably now safe to say England will be present – the strongest opponent in a weak group was an ideal opportunity to test the resources at his disposal.
It is in no way a reflection of how people played at the weekend, the England manager explained before kick-off. Jadon Sancho is in to freshen up the team. We have good players to come in and its a chance in the wide areas to refresh the group. His ability one against one to beat players [and] his decision making is excellent. His number of goals and assists at Dortmund speaks for itself. Speaks loudly, in fact. No player in Europes top five leagues has produced more assists in league football than Sancho since the start of last season. His total of 17 includes four in five appearances for Borussia Dortmund this term. As well as three goals.
Read more It took a while for a rapport to build between the former Watford academy graduate and Trent Alexander-Arnold on what could be a hugely productive right flank for England. Twice the Liverpool right-back failed to pick out a Sancho run into space in the first half but with Jordan Henderson quick to find the winger he did not have to wait long to showcase the ability to burst past defenders and pick the right pass having done so. Florent Hadergjonaj, the poor Kosovan left-back, was in a state of torment long before Sancho scored his first international goal on the stroke of half-time. Receiving Sterlings inch-perfect pass across the penalty area, the 19-year-old again deceived Hadergjonaj before firing low under Arijanet Muric. The immaculate control and quick change of feet in possession prior to converting were hallmarks of Sanchos entire performance. His willingness to help defensively did not go unnoticed too, and he intercepted several breaks by Kosovo when sprinting back into midfield.
Sancho won the corner that led to Keanes reprieve and Sterlings equaliser. He forced Englands third by taking the ball to the byline, outfoxing Hadergjonaj and driving in a low cross that Muric inexplicably left and Mergim Vojvoda turned into his own net. The fact it was an own goal and a Kosovan player was flat on the ground appealing for treatment at the time barely registered with Sancho as he celebrated with a few fist-pumps.
Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Jadon Sancho helped the Three Lions score five before the break, but they wobbled in the second half as Kosovo gave them a scare.
5 things we learned from England v Kosovo
He looked more sheepish after scoring his second goal. Once again it was made by the mesmerising and unselfish feet of Sterling and Sancho was left with a simple task to score into an empty goal with Muric stranded. Sterling had fulfilled his promise and Southgates options in attack, with Callum Hudson-Odoi still to recover from injury, look increasingly formidable.
Raheem Sterling made three goals and scored for England, Jadon Sancho bagged two – but it was Kosovo forward Valon Berisha who was your man of the match in the 5-3 duel in Southampton.
Berisha was handed a gift by Michael Keane to score after 34 seconds and curled in a fine second after the break too. You gave him an average rating of 7.54 to put him ahead of Sancho (7.32) and Sterling (7.21).
England returned to St Marys as Jadon Sancho announced himself on the international stage in some style, scoring twice on a night when Englands ruthless edge made up for some shambolic defending in a thrilling, high-scoring win against Kosovo.