England cruised to a 3-0 win over a 10-man Ivory Coast in an international friendly on Tuesday, set on its way by Raheem Sterling who created a goal for Ollie Watkins on his first start for his country and then scored the second himself.
The host opened the scoring in the 30th minute when Sterling, wearing the captain's arm band, battled to recover the ball before jinking past Serge Aurier and crossing for Watkins to tap in from close range for his second England goal.
Aurier picked up two yellow cards in quick succession, reducing the visitor to 10 men in the 40th minute, a few minutes before Sterling turned in a cross from Jack Grealish.
In the second half, Ivory Coast tried to hold its defensive line and not concede more goals but England defender Tyrone Mings sealed the win with almost the last touch of the game when he scored with a header from a Phil Foden corner.
England manager Gareth Southgate had made 10 changes from the side that beat Switzerland 2-1 in another friendly on Saturday, giving a first start to defender Tyrick Mitchell as well as Watkins. But his hopes of giving a real test to his less-used players ahead of the World Cup in Qatar went out of the window when Aurier was sent off.
"I wanted (Aurier) to stay on because it's a friendly and you get more from playing against 11," Grealish told Sky Sports . "I think it would have been more of a challenge for us. I said to the referee 'come on!'"
Ivory Coast manager Patrice Beaumelle was critical of his skipper. "He's a captain and now he is a mature player and he has to lead the group," Beaumelle said. "So when you leave the group like that at Wembley Stadium against England, all the team is finished."
He said striker Wilfried Zaha missed the game after picking up a hamstring injury during Ivory Coast's 2-1 friendly defeat to France last Friday and had returned to his English Premier League club Crystal Palace.
- Southgate blasts "ludicrous" booing of Maguire -
England manager Gareth Southgate slammed some of the national team's fans for booing Harry Maguire during the game, saying the defender would be key to England's World Cup campaign later this year.
Maguire has come under criticism for his performances for his Premier League club Manchester United which has spilled over into discontent among some England fans too. There were boos when his name was announced at Wembley Stadium before the kickoff against Ivory Coast and when he made his first touches.
"I don't understand how it benefits anybody because we are either all in it together or we're not," Southgate told reporters.
"I would imagine if you asked a few actually why were they doing that, they might not even be able to answer that because it becomes a mob mentality," he added.
He warned that the hounding of Maguire could make other players fear that they might be next and less willing to represent their country, saying former England players John Barnes and Ashley Cole underwent similar treatment, as had Raheem Sterling, now one of England's most outstanding players.
Southgate lauded Maguire's performance and said he needed to be playing well for England to have a chance at the World Cup in Qatar later this year. "We're not going to win a World Cup with a load of players that have got three or four caps. That's not happened in the history of the game," he said.
"He's top quality and in my opinion he's the best centre back at his club as well," Southgate said. "It's ludicrous. It's almost like every time he steps on a football pitch every action is analysed to death."
Midfielder Jack Grealish also condemned the jeering. "He's been a fantastic servant for his country and it's ridiculous for him to get booed. It wasn't something the team liked," Grealish said in the post-match news conference.
"Harry is a strong-minded person. His performance tonight will have done him the world of good. It will only spur him on. It's not nice to hear but you've got a job to do," he added.
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