Southgate slams supporters who booed Maguire

England boss defends Harry Maguire after 'mob mentality' reaction at Wembley before 3-0 win over Ivory Coast

Tuesday, 29th March — By Paul Cowling at Wembley


Gareth Southgate’s England discover who they will get in the World Cup finals draw this Friday

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ENGLAND 3 (Watkins 30, Sterling 45, Mings 90+3)
IVORY COAST 0 (Aurier sent off 40)

IMPRESSIVE in the first half but irritating in the second, England still coasted to victory against a very poor Ivory Coast team at Wembley this evening (Tuesday).

This coming Friday, coach Gareth Southgate finds out who England will get in the World Cup finals draw. If he had hoped for this match to be a useful exercise against non-European opponents – the first at Wembley since November 2018 – he would have been left disappointed.

First half goals from Ollie Watkins and Raheem Sterling, and an injury-time header from Tyrone Mings, sealed a 3-0 win to maintain England’s 22-game unbeaten run.

After the match, Southgate preferred to discuss the treatment of Harry Maguire, who had been booed by fans before the game. “The reception (for Maguire) was a joke, an absolute joke,” said the England manager.

“I don’t know how it benefits anybody. We’re either all in it together or we’re not. I imagine if you asked a few of them why they did it they probably wouldn’t even be able to answer. It’s mob mentality.”

Southgate had made 10 changes from Saturday’s 2-1 win over Switzerland, and given the raft of injuries to senior players, gave first starts to Tyrick Mitchell from Crystal Palace and Aston Villa’s Watkins.

Watkins missed a great chance to put the Three Lions ahead on 15 minutes, his outstretched leg somehow failed to connect with a Mitchell cross. This was seconds after Jude Bellingham had a gilt-edge chance smothered by goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare.

Watkins made up for that miss, however, when he put England 1-0 up on the half-hour mark. The Villa striker timed his run perfectly to tap in from a low goal-mouth cross from the impressive Mitchell.

England continued to dominate, with Bellingham at the centre of things, though his midfield partner, James Ward-Prowse – usually a set-piece king – was wayward with most of his corners and free-kicks.

And there were a lot of free-kicks, as the Ivorians constantly dug away at English ankles.

Former Tottenham right-back Serge Aurier was sent off on 41 minutes after a second yellow card for dissent, as the visitors looked like they were beginning to unravel.

Just before half-time, Sterling fired a shot straight at Sangare. The ball fell to Jack Grealish who volleyed back in to Sterling, who made no mistake to put England 2-0 up.

Even with mercurial talent Wilfried Zaha missing from the squad with a knock, you could clearly see why the Elephants hadn’t qualified for the World Cup finals.

Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe was anonymous up front and was substituted at half-time. Pepe’s Gunner teammate Ben White was also rested for the restart as Kyle Walker-Peters earned his second England cap.

“I thought Ben was very composed. He has played well in the two games he has played,” said Southgate.

England were awarded a penalty seconds after the restart, but VAR showed that what originally looked like a clumsy challenge by Fousseny Coulibaly was actually a ball-winning one – albeit only just – and the spot-kick was overturned.

A quartet of changes saw Harry Kane join the action, but the Tottenham striker seemed off the pace. Another substitution, Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe, looked a little livelier, yet England struggled to add to their two goals.

The paper planes now regularly taking off from the stands seemed to take an age to reach the Wembley turf. This slow delivery mirrored England’s second half attack.

Their slow keep ball possession got them nowhere with the game already won and an Ivorian side now playing damage limitation football with nine outfield players at the back.

But then in the final seconds of added-on time, Mings headed in for 3-0 to make the scoreline a more realistic representation of the evening.

England: Pope, White (Walker-Peters, 45), Maguire, Mings, Mitchell (Shaw, 62), Ward-Prowse (Gallagher, 80), Rice, Bellingham, Sterling (Foden, 62), Watkins (Kane, 62), Grealish (Smith Rowe, 62)
Substitutes not used: Forster, Henderson, Guehi, Coady, Mount, Pickford

Ivory Coast: Sangare, Aurier (sent off, 41), Bailly (Agbadou, 45), Deli, Kamara, Seri (Akouokou, 90+3), Kessie, Pepe (Boly, 45), Gradel (Coulibaly, 45), Cornet (Konan, 64), Haller (Boli, 86)
Substitutes not used: Cisse, Diallo, Kouassi, Kone, Sangare, Konate

Attendance: 73,405

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