England score a perfect ten but friendlies will be the acid test
Another assured display from Ross Barkley helps England finish Euro 2016 qualifying with ten wins out of ten
Lithuania 0 England 3
England ended their Euro 2016 qualification campaign as they'd begun it, with an easy win to make it ten victories from ten matches. It's the first time that England have won every one of their qualification matches for a finals tournament since the 1954 World Cup qualifiers.
Some may sniff at the achievement, after all England were hardly in the same position as their rugby-playing counterparts. But although they were playing in a group of dearth as far as quality opposition goes, the 100 percent record brought a smile to manager Roy Hodgson's face. "This is an achievement," he declared. "I am very proud of the players' performances... there was a lot of hard work put in, the quality of play was good and ten wins out of ten is very satisfying - we've got to take a lot of pride in that."
In qualifying for next summer's tournament in France, the Three Lions are only the sixth team in history to so without dropping a point and their tally of 31 goals (and just three against) will give the squad confidence ahead of a competition they have never won.
Ross Barkley - who followed up last week's eye-catching performance against Estonia with another assured showing - put England one up on the half-hour mark with a deflected shot. The visitors then doubled their advantage in odd fashion as a Harry Kane shot rebounded into the net off the back of Lithuania keeper Giedrius Arlauskis having first struck the post.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made it 3-0 in the second half with a rasping shot becoming the tenth different England player to score in the Euro 2016 qualifiers. "I can't fault anyone tonight, a good performance, dominant and a nice way to end the qualifying campaign," enthused Hodgson, who nonetheless acknowledged the paucity of the opposition in Group E. "It would have been a surprise if we had not qualified," he said. "But the upcoming friendlies are better, stronger sides."
Those friendlies will pit England against next summer's hosts France at Wembley as well as Spain and Germany on their own turf. "We will use the upcoming friendlies to learn, to see where we are," said the England manager. "If we concentrate and play properly we can do well."
The only sour note from Monday night's game in Vilnius was some minor skirmishes among rival fans prior to kick-off. According to the BBC, fighting broke out in a stand behind one of the goals and riot police were required to restore order.