In Brief

Montenegro 1 England 5: Raheem Sterling and the Three Lions silence the racist haters

Gareth Southgate angered after racial abuse mars the victory in Podgorica

Uefa Euro 2020 qualifying group A Montenegro 1 England 5 

England made it two wins and ten goals from their opening two Euro 2020 qualification matches, but the thumping victory in Montenegro was overshadowed by allegations of racism.

According to The Guardian, Danny Rose was subjected to monkey chants after a foul on Aleksandar Boljevic while Raheem Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi were also singled out for abuse by the Montenegro fans. 

Silence the haters

Sterling scored England’s fifth goal of the night and after the match he posted a picture of his celebration on Twitter with the caption: “Best way to silence the haters (yeah I mean racists).”

Hudson-Odoi, who was outstanding on his full debut, retrieved a cigarette lighter thrown at Sterling as he celebrated his goal.

The Chelsea youngster later explained: “When I went over there, Rosey and I heard it. They were saying monkey stuff. When you are hearing stuff like that from the fans, it’s not right… it’s unacceptable and hopefully Uefa deal with it properly.”

Clear to everybody

“Unacceptable” was also the word used by an angry England manager Gareth Southgate when asked about the abuse.

“It’s very sad,” he continued. “We had an excellent performance and have an 18-year-old [Hudson-Odoi] being interviewed after the game having to respond to what’s happened when his evening should be about the joy of his full debut.

“I didn’t hear during the early part, but I’m told there were things in the early part of the game as well. I certainly heard when Danny Rose was booked. It was clear to everybody.”

Promising to “support” his players, Southgate added: “We will report it. That reporting is already in place because so many people in other areas of the ground heard it. I believe the Uefa delegate also heard it.”

One person who claimed not to have heard anything was Montenegro manager Ljubisa Tumbakovic, and when asked how that was possible he asked “why I should be commenting on that”.

Proper punishment required

Sterling said that he wished they could talk about just football but given the level of abuse it was only right to shine a light on the shameful behaviour of some home fans.

“It is 2019 and there should be a real punishment for this, not just for the few people being banned,” he said.

“You can fine people but what’s that going to do? It needs to be a collective thing. This stadium holds 15,000 and I think the punishment should be that, as a nation, if your fans are chanting racist abuse, it should be the whole stadium can’t watch it.

“Then when that ban is lifted your fans will think twice about doing anything silly like that because they all love football, they all want to be there to support their nation.”

Fantastic five

When the conversation did focus on the football, there was praise for the emphatic manner in which England fought back from conceding an early goal to Marko Vesovic.

Despite fielding a young side, in which 20-year-old Declan Rice and 18-year-old Hudson-Odoi made their full debuts, the Three Lions crushed their hosts with five goals.

Vesovic gave the home side the lead after 17 minutes but England defender Michael Keane headed home the equaliser on the half-hour mark and then man-of-the-match Ross Barkley put England in front at the break.

Chelsea midfielder Barkley got a second on the hour, and Harry Kane and Sterling found the back of the net in a final quarter that showcased the scintillating attacking threat of Southgate’s men.

“The game was a simple one in that we talked all week about using the width,” explained Southgate, who is the first England manager to see his side score five goals in consecutive matches since Bobby Robson in 1984.

“Our wingers were incredibly productive on the night [and] it was a fabulous performance from young Callum Hudson-Odoi. This place has been difficult for us before and it was a good test of character.”

Next fixtures

England don’t play again in Euro 2020 qualifying until September as they are in the semi-finals of the Uefa Nations League. The Three Lions take on the Netherlands on Thursday 6 June (7.45pm). Should they beat the Dutch England would face Switzerland or Portugal in the final on 9 June. 

Southgate’s side then face Bulgaria at Wembley Stadium on 7 September in Euro 2020 qualifying group A before travelling to Kosovo on 10 September.

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