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Sun. May 22nd, 2022

By Phil McNulty

Chief football writer

England’s victory was the sort that should be achieved against an Andorra side nestling between New Caledonia and the Dominican Republic in the world rankings.

It was as routine and comfortable as it gets in international football, but there was still plenty riding on this for some England players.

In Andorra’s picturesque Estadi Nacional, the Three Lions’ smooth passage towards the World Cup in Qatar continued uninterrupted – and there are still places up for grabs in manager Gareth Southgate’s team and squad.

That is why, even though Andorra are down at 156th place in those international listings, it was an important night for the likes of Tammy Abraham and Jadon Sancho.

It was also a night when Manchester City’s Phil Foden played at such an elite level that it is impossible to see how Southgate can leave him out of any England starting XI.

Abraham has had a new lease of life since deciding to leave Chelsea and join Jose Mourinho at Roma, scoring four goals in 10 appearances. But the pressure was on the 24-year-old to hit the target after his late call-up to England’s squad.

England strikers must score against Andorra if they want to make a statement in the fight for a place, and Abraham had his chance with Harry Kane rested along with Raheem Sterling, and with the captain’s usual deputy Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured.

Southgate also has Ollie Watkins, Marcus Rashford and eventually Mason Greenwood at his disposal. It is not a battle Abraham will find easy to win.

He had a tough night at times as he struggled to get on the end of opportunities when England dominated, but his prize for persistence was a 59th-minute goal as he showed good movement to sneak on to Sancho’s cross and beat the stranded Andorra keeper Josep Gomes.

It was not a totally convincing display, but his goal will do his confidence the world of good and remind Southgate of the qualities he can offer as he starts to revive his international career after making the move to Italy.

The strike also made Abraham the first England player to score while playing for a Serie A side since David Platt, who was on target for his country while playing for Sampdoria in 1995.

By Nwosu Chizoba David

Nwosu Chizoba David is a soccer lover and writer. He is a graduate of Biological Sciences, presently teaching in a secondary in Lagos.

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