England’s World Cup build-up continued with a friendly win over Nigeria at Wembley.
Chelsea defender Gary Cahill celebrated his return to England’s squad and stepped up his claims for a starting place against Tunisia in Volgograd on 18 June by opening the scoring with a powerful header after only seven minutes.
England’s total first-half domination was emphasised when captain Harry Kane scored his eighth goal in his last seven appearances six minutes before the interval when Nigeria keeper Francis Uzoho allowed his 18-yard shot to slip in.
Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi gave Nigeria’s thousands of fans inside Wembley hope two minutes after the break with a crisp finish but England – who had Raheem Sterling booked for diving – closed out the victory in relatively untroubled fashion.
England’s preparations continue with another friendly against Costa Rica at Elland Road on Thursday.
Sterling in the spotlight
Sterling has dominated the headlines and the build-up to this friendly after he was pictured sporting a tattoo of a gun on his leg and revelations about his late arrival for England’s pre-World Cup training camp when they assembled earlier this month.
And he was a central figure again here at Wembley as manager Gareth Southgate puts the finishing touches to his plans for the World Cup in Russia.
Sterling, whose name was warmly greeted by England’s fans when it was announced, formed a lively partnership with captain Kane – but it was also a day of frustration for the Manchester City attacker.
Southgate, who admitted he briefly considered dropping Sterling after that late arrival to join up with England, will have relished some aspects and the signs of promise in that link with Kane but will demand much greater end product.
Sterling never stopped running and probing but was too wasteful, chipping a good chance wide of the far post in the first half and failing to find the final delivery on occasions.
He was also rightly booked for diving in the second half as he tumbled theatrically when confronted by Nigeria keeper Francis Uzoho as he raced into the area.
Sterling’s energy and application, however, could not be doubted and he will play a key role in Southgate’s line-up when their World Cup campaign opens against Tunisia in Volgograd on 18 June.
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