Saka hails Gareth Southgate's advice before Czech Republic win

Bukayo Saka reveals Gareth Southgate told him to ‘express myself’ and play like he has at Arsenal this season before the teenager put in a man-of-the-match display against in England’s win over Czech Republic

  • Bukayo Saka put in an excellent display in England’s 1-0 win over Czech Republic 
  • The 19-year-old played a crucial role in Raheem Sterling’s first-half winning goal 
  • Saka claimed Gareth Southgate told him to play like he is at Arsenal pre-match
  • The teenager hailed the fact England’s last-16 match will be played at Wembley 

Bukayo Saka revealed Gareth Southgate told him to be himself before the England winger played a vital role in the Three Lions’ 1-0 win over Czech Republic on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old was a surprise starter selected by Southgate at Wembley for the final Euro 2020 group match, but justified his selection by having a key role in Raheem Sterling’s first-half goal – which proved to be the winner.

Saka started the move for Sterling’s strike by taking the ball into the Czech half with a solo run, before putting in a teasing cross. England’s opponents cleared the ball but only for Jack Grealish to loft a teasing cross onto the head of Sterling, who nodded the ball in. 

Bukayo Saka (right) praised Gareth Southgate (left) for his pre-match advice before England’s win over Czech Republic

The 19-year-old put in an excellent display in the victory that allowed England to win the group

The teenage winger admitted Southgate told Saka to channel his performances for Arsenal this season before the Czech Republic match. 

Speaking to ITV Sport about the England manager’s pre-match advice, Saka claimed: ‘He just told me to go out there and play my game and express myself how I’ve played at my club all season. 

‘Sometimes that means dropping in and driving at opponents and I did that, it got us up the pitch. 

Saka (second left) played a vital role in Raheem Sterling’s (right) first-half winner at Wembley

‘It was a good cross from Jack and Raheem was at the right place at the right time again to score us a goal. I was up there, but I’m not quite tall enough!’

The result mean England have now topped Group D at Euro 2020 and will progress to the knockout stages with two wins and a draw under their belt for confidence. 

The Three Lions beat Croatia 1-0 in the opening game, and while a 0-0 draw with Scotland on Friday night halted some momentum, England’s Wembley win on Tuesday night stands them in good stead for the rest of the campaign.

Saka claims the fact that England had already qualified before the match meant they could be more easy on the eye for their final match, and highlighted the importance of playing their first knockout round tie at Wembley.  

Man of the match Saka (above) claimed Southgate told him to be himself, like he is for Arsenal

He added: ‘I think it was a really good performance from us. We played some really good football at times. 

‘With us qualifying before the game, we had more freedom and time to express ourselves because we’d already qualified and I think that showed in some of the football we played tonight. I’m happy with the performance from myself and the team. 

‘It’s important for us to be here at Wembley because we’ve played here won here a lot so we have a lot of confidence when we’re playing here with our fans. It’s an extra man for us so it’s going to be a real boost to play at Wembley.’

Attention now turns to England’s last-16 tie on Tuesday night, which will be against one of France, Germany, Portugal or Hungary at Wembley. 

Saka (left) praised the fact England’s first knockout match will be in front of a Wembley crowd

Saka’s man-of-the-match performance on Tuesday night means he is now one of the contenders to start in a three-man attack for that match, but has stiff competition alongside Phil Foden, Sterling, Jack Grealish, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford.

Mason Mount is a major doubt for that match as he will be in isolation right up until the day before the knockout clash after him and Ben Chilwell were advised to isolate due to spending time with Scotland’s Billy Gilmour on Friday, who tested positive for coronavirus. 

Saka claims he does not know whether he will start the last-16 match but claims he will do all he can to make the squad.  

‘I hope so, it’s always up to the manager,’ he says. ‘I always give my best  so we’ll wait and see.’  

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