Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions took another step towards qualification to the European Championships after a dominant display on the road.
As such, Gareth had chosen to bench all four Man City’s treble winners. All four of the City players named in the England squad were omitted from Southgate’s starting line-up. This came as no surprise, particularly in Jack Grealish’s case.
Britain’s most expensive footballer had hit the treble celebrations very hard. He was pictured looking worse for wear throughout City’s parade through Manchester city centre.
The fact that he was able to train with the Three Lions just days after is a testament to his athleticism, let alone be named in the match-day squad.
While Grealish, Kalvin Phillips and Kyle Walker were given a night of rest, Phil Foden was called into action to replace the injured Saka at half-time.
The young Arsenal ace, Bukayo Saka became the first outfield Gunners player since Lee Dixon to play in every single league game for two seasons running after another long, gruelling campaign for Mikel Arteta’s men.
His reward? More football. Less than a month after Arsenal’s last league game, Saka was named in the starting line-up once again.
However, it took just eight minutes for the 21-year-old to show why Southgate likes him so much. Saka played the pass across the face of goal before Apap put it through his own net.
With that being said, some stray touches soon followed along with the odd misplaced pass.
More concerning from Arteta’s perspective is the fact Saka picked up an ankle knock before failing to emerge from the dressing room at half-time.
Ahead of the game, James Maddison admitted he was putting ‘horse blinkers’ on. He added his focus was on the task at hand amid speculation over his club future.
It is highly unlikely that the 26-year-old remains at Leicester beyond the summer following the Foxes’ relegation from the Premier League last term.
Both Tottenham and Newcastle have been touted with a move for Maddison. But the midfielder may have added to his price tag with a very assured display on the right flank.
Fans may have lost count over the amount of smart turns and deft flicks Maddison managed to pull off in the first-half alone.
Maddison influenced proceedings by ensuring he didn’t just hug the touchline. But instead continued to come inside and get on the ball.
The England goalkeeper was a spectator for so much of this tie. With Malta failing to create a single meaningful chance to test the England shot-stopper all evening.
By the time Kane had notched England’s third just after the half hour-mark. It was a case of damage limitation for the hosts, who played to keep the score down from that point onwards.
Some will argue that tougher tests await this England side. But having won in Italy and beaten Ukraine at home, qualification is pretty much already secured for Southgate’s men.