England manager Gareth Southgate singled out Arsenal attacker Bukayo Saka following his man of the match performance in the 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic. The 19-year-old played a key role in the Lions Euro’s victory and speaking to ITV Sport after the game, Southgate heaped praise on the youngster:
“I thought we started really well. We were stable with the ball. We worked on some things in training yesterday but credit to the players as they had to adjust. Without the ball we changed what we were doing because of the change in personnel. It is huge credit to the players that they were as stable without the ball as they were.
“We hadn’t finalised everything as we got the shout during training (over the players needing to isolate). We have been super impressed with Bukayo Saka throughout the month. He was excellent up at Middlesbrough and we have liked him with and without the ball. His receiving tonight under pressure was fantastic.
The Czechs are a really good side. They use the ball well and are really tough to break down. There is more to come from us, definitely. We have not scored from a set play yet which I know people laughed at with us only scoring from them. They are crucial in big matches and we have to get those nailed. We are not fluent but we have moments where we look a good side.”
Saka shared his own thoughts on the game along with his own role in the teams victory against a resolute Czech side:
“It was a really good performance from us. We played some really good football at times. With us already having qualified, we had more freedom to express ourselves. That showed in some of the football we played.
“The manager told me to go out and express myself. To play how I have played for my club all season. Sometimes that means driving at the opponents and I did that and got us up the pitch. It was a good cross from Jack for the goal and Raheem was in the right place at the right time again. I was up there but not quite tall enough.
“It is important to be here at Wembley for the round of 16. We have won here a lot. With our fans it is an extra man for us. I can only give my best when I am on the pitch.”