International round-up: Marcus Rashford impresses, difficult night for Henrikh Mkhitaryan

by Leo Nieboer

Phil Jones

The Englishman kept his place in Gareth Southgate’s side after starting against France back in June and gave his manager no reason to drop him for Slovakia whatsoever with a composed display at the back.

Malta hardly looked dangerous going forward, firing a few pot shots wide from distance, but Jones’ positional sense – a hallmark of his strong start under Jose Mourinho this season – made sure that the home side were kept at bay as England ultimately strolled to a 4-0 win.

Henrikh Mhitaryan

Armenia’s visit to Romania presented a notably different landscape than what Mkhitaryan has been used to so far this season. The 28-year-old, who already has five assists in the Premier League this season, spent the majority of the game camped in his own half as the home side dominated and gained a numerical advantage after Taron Voskanyan was sent off early in the second half.

He battled with vigour, tracking back militantly and moving the ball forward whenever he could, but his efforts were ultimately in vein as Alexandru Maxim fired home a deserved injury time winner for Romania.

Marcus Rashford

The biggest compliment I can pay to Rashford is that he makes England watchable. Southgate’s men were nothing short of insipid in the first half, struggling to break down a side ranked 190th in the world. No urgency, no innovation. Just side to side movement to the incessant beat of that droning, moribund drum taken everywhere by England supporters.

But the teenager’s introduction changed that. His very presence opened up the pitch, with the youngster staying wide and bursting past opponents at will, linking up smartly with teammates – he produced a truly sumptuous flick to set free Kyle Walker, only for the right-back to lash his shot wide – and threatening the goal himself.

England suddenly clicked. Rashford’s introduction yielded four second half goals, with the last coming via a superb chip into the box from the youngster to set up Harry Kane, after the visitors barely threatened with Raheem Sterling on the pitch in the first period.

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