England qualify for Euro 2020 but boos for Joe Gomez spoil the celebrations
Raheem Sterling defends the Liverpool player after jeers from fans at Wembley
Uefa Euro 2020 qualifying group A England 7 Montenegro 0
England secured their qualification for next summer’s European Championships with a thumping 7-0 victory over Montenegro last night.
The Three Lions are confirmed as group A winners and as a result of qualifying automatically they will play all three Euro 2020 group matches at Wembley Stadium.
It was a good way to celebrate England’s 1,000th game but some of the gloss was taken off the evening by the jeers that greeted the introduction of Joe Gomez in the second half.
The Liverpool defender had been involved in a spat with Raheem Sterling earlier in the week but the latter was the aggressor and his punishment was a one-game suspension from manager Gareth Southgate.
Nonetheless, a section of England fans believed Gomez was to blame and not Sterling.
To his credit Manchester City star Sterling rallied to the defence of Gomez after the game.
Sterling tweeted: “It was hard for me to see my team-mate get booed for something that was my fault. Joe hasn’t done anything wrong and for me to see someone who keeps his head down and works hard, especially after a difficult week for him, to be booed when he came on tonight was wrong. I’ve taken full responsibility and accepted the consequence.”
Southgate also expressed his disapproval of the fans’ behaviour. “Joe had done nothing wrong and no England player should be booed like that when they are wearing the shirt,” he told reporters. “All the players are particularly disappointed with that.”
Boo boys apart, it was a good night for Southgate whose players were clinical in their demolition of a very average Montenegro side.
The star of the show was captain Harry Kane, whose hat-trick moved him to fifth in England’s list of leading scorers with 31 goals.
There were also goals for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marcus Rashford and substitute Tammy Abraham, while Aleksandar Sofranac inadvertently got on the scoresheet when he diverted Mason Mount’s shot into his own net.
England play their final group A qualifying match on Sunday in Kosovo (5pm, live on ITV).
How pundits reacted to the booing of Joe Gomez
Phil McNulty, BBC Sport
“It was senseless, unwarranted and totally undeserved and rightly condemned by both Southgate and Sterling.”
Henry Winter, The Times
“Sterling’s post calling out those who jeered Gomez was one of the most important moments of the evening. England’s unity is everything. Gomez must be bemused by anybody being against him so it must have been reassuring to receive such swift support.”
David Hytner, The Guardian
“At first, it felt as though it was a trick of the imagination. Why boo Gomez? What had he done? The flashpoint was brief, lasting no more than a few seconds, but it hit home with a force that was felt particularly sharply inside the England dressing room.”