Gareth Southgate thinks Bukayo Saka showed a lot of maturity and quality in his substitute performance against Belgium on Sunday.
England got off to a bad start against Belgium in their match over the weekend, going behind 2-0 in the first 25 minutes. It seemed to get even worse when starting left-back Ben Chilwell picked up an injury before the end of the first half.
Gareth Southgate called on Bukayo Saka to take the Chelsea man’s place, and the teenager did excellently. Nobody – not even the England and Belgium starters – made more chances than Saka across the full 90 minutes.
Saka also completed 94% of his passes, won three of four individual duels, and made one clearance, two interceptions, and one tackle. It was another top display from the Arsenal academy graduate, after his Player-of-the-Match performance last time.
Southgate praised Saka in his press conference after the game.
“I thought Bukayo, to come into a game like that as a young player, in a difficult moment, against a very strong opponent, I thought he too showed a lot maturity, a lot of quality on the ball,” Southgate said. “There were some huge positives for us.”
A key thing to note was that this was Saka’s first competitive appearance for England. That means he’s now locked in to play for the English national side, with Nigeria missing out on him.
If he keeps up these performances, that’s a major coup for Southgate and co.