England 4 Iceland 0: Phil Foden steals show with double as Lions rout 10-man rivals

IN SPIRIT, it felt like Gazza was on the pitch at Wembley. But on this occasion, it was Phil Foden rather than Jack Grealish.

While Grealish once again did his England chances no harm whatsoever, he was upstaged by some midfield wizardry from a player even younger.

Fitting then, Phil Foden was wearing number 19 – the same number as Gazza.

In only his third England appearance, Foden delivered a type of confident, clever performance which means he still has an outside chance of making that starting XI when England finally play Croatia in their opening game of Euro 2020 – on June 13, 2021.

And the fact he then delivered two killer goals in the final ten minutes sealed a terrific evening for Foden who delivered a few flashes of genius.

It was only against Iceland, who were really bad. And the second half was nowhere near the first as the visitors were down to ten men for the last 36 minutes.

But at least Gareth Southgate has finished what has proved to be a frustrating and at times turbulent 2020 on some sort of a high.

Foden was left out of the squad for last month’s matches after his indiscretion in a Iceland hotel room with two women and Mason Greenwood.

Yet he continued his good form for Manchester City, by creating the opening goal for Declan Rice, delivered some intelligent, incisive passing and then scored those two irresistible goals. Gazza would have been proud.

Guardiola claimed in 2019 that Foden was the most talented player he had ever seen and then promptly failed to select him regularly.

But finally, we are seeing the type of player Foden has always threatened to be.

With Southgate making it clear a 3-4-3 formation is here to stay, it seemed the battle to spearhead the attack with Harry Kane was a fight between Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho with two spots up for grabs.

But now, you can throw Grealish and Foden into the mix. What they may lack in power and pace, they more than make up for with fine technique and some moments of pure magic with the football.

Grealish, who repeatedly won free-kicks in dangerous areas, has certainly ensured his place in the squad for Euro 2020, something which seemed unlikely until Marcus Rashford pulled out of the first England squad before the start of the season.

Another delightful story at Wembley was the fact that both Rice and Mason Mount scored. The pair are lifelong friends, their families still holiday together and it was clearly a special moment for the pair to be playing at Wembley, side-by-side.

Albeit with Rice having more defensive duties, the pair gave England some balance which has been missing in central midfield.

Even at the back, although they were rarely challenged, Harry Maguire – who missed the trip to Iceland due to his arrest and subsequent court case in Greece – played like Franz Beckenbauer. And there was another extremely encouraging performance from Bukayo Saka.

The only downside was that captain Kane has now gone six games without a goal, spanning a year.

Before the warm-up, behind the goal, Jordan Pickford laid a yellow goalkeeper shirt with ‘Clemence 1’ on the back in memory of the Liverpool legend Ray. For Pickford, that was about the only thing he did all evening.

England struggled to break down their defensive visitors and had not managed a decent attempt on goal until Grealish won a free-kick and Rice delivered a decent run to connect to Foden’s excellent ball into the area.

Another plus point from this England international window has been the performances of Saka.

The wing-back has done well, and will give Ben Chilwell some major competition down the left and he would have scored a goal but for an instinctive save from Ogmundur Kristinsson.

Yet Saka, who also missed a good chance created by Foden at the very end, delivered a cross which the Icelandic defence failed to clear, Kane made a nuisance of himself and Mount a quick took a touch before comfortably scoring his third England goal.

Foden forced a couple of saves from the Icedandic keeper although will feel he should have scored both. But he should not have worried as he found his eye for goal at the end.

Iceland swapped keepers at the break to give Euros hero Hannes Halldorsson a send off as he looks set to retire.

The visitors were reduced to ten men shortly into the second half after Birkir Saevarsson, making his 95th international appearance, landed a second yellow card after tugging the arm of Saka just outside the box.

Grealish was replaced by Sancho, who then teed the ball up for former City academy team-mate Foden who swivelled to score into the corner.

And although that strike was impressive, his second was even better. There seemed little danger but Foden created something out of nothing and fired an unstoppable shot from outside the area.

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