Media Watch

Sterling work as Raheem double silences critics

Raheem dream versus Spain
Given all that’s gone before, if one player deserved an international break of a different kind, it is Raheem Sterling.

Often the scapegoat for England by some sections of the media and Three Lions followers, the City forward ended his long wait for a national team goal against Spain and, just like buses, you wait an age for one and then two come in succession.

Gareth Southgate’s side beat Spain 3-2 in Seville with a performance that few saw coming and praise was heaped on Sterling after arguably his best ever game for England.

It’s no surprise for Blues fans – Raheem has been doing what he did last night for the best part of three years for City.

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First, word from the man himself.

'It was a brilliant team performance,’ Sterling told Sky Sports. ‘I thought we went straight at them from the beginning and we were clinical today.

‘The other day [against Croatia] we played some good football at times, but today I think we played really well and took those chances when we needed to.

‘It was a beautiful feeling; I put a lot of pressure on myself to get in the box and score goals, and sometimes it works for you and sometimes it doesn't but it's my position to score goals and I need to keep that going.

‘It means a lot to me - it's been three years, and it means a lot in a game like this.’

Leading the lauding is Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher who also told Sky Sports: 'This is the Raheem Sterling we see week in week out in the Premier League.

‘We said before it's like watching a different player but the wide players are playing very narrow and I think that has helped tonight.

'Him and Rashford are narrow and the front three, even without a goal for Harry Kane, have been outstanding.'

The Independent, meanwhile, were one of many to compare Raheem’s first strike with Michael Owen’s against Argentina 20 years ago as they write: “There was just such an impressive force and assertiveness about England in general, with the tone set by Sterling’s finish, and the team very much set off.

“This was a player performing without hesitation, and a side performing without doubt. That was what so striking: the focus. Southgate has got his tactics and formation so right, and it led to some laser-accurate lightning moves, especially with the first goal.

“The variation of angles and styles to a mere three passes that traversed the length of the pitch made it all the more thrilling, before the glorious abandon of the finish.

“Pickford found Kane with a supreme Frank De Boer-style ball, Kane swiftly fed Rashford, he immediately played a slide-rule pass before Sterling hit an effort of such effervescent power that De Gea couldn’t even react.

“The finish instantly drew comparisons with Michael Owen against Argentina but this very quickly developing into a night making a history of all its own - while showing such promise for the future.”

Finally, Give Me Sport focus on the tweets of Gary Lineker, who pointed out he hadn’t made his England debut by Raheem’s age.

“Too right, Gary,” they write.

“There's no doubting that Sterling is one of the most exciting talents in world football on his day and it was refreshing to see him at his very best for England.

“Even Lineker will admit that Sterling needs to bring this level on a more consistent basis, but two goals against Spain might very well be the catalyst.

“If the 23-year-old can perform like he did during that first-half in Sevilla, then very few defences will be able to cope with him going forward.”

And that rounds off our Sterling special!

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