It was a tricky assignment for England yesterday, as they hosted the world’s top ranked team Belgium at Wembley.
The game was Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s second Three Lions start, with the Everton man keeping his place up front in the absence of captain Harry Kane.
It wasn’t the most fluent performance from England but they came from behind to win 2-1, thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount.
Calvert-Lewin was asked to plough a lone furrow in a 5-4-1 formation, but performed admirably considering the limited service he was afforded.
He didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet – which is only the second time this season that has been the case – but he did his job for the team.
Calvert-Lewin won more headers than any player on the pitch at Wembley.
The Everton man won seven in total. The rest of the England team won six combined.
England have preferred to play out from the back throughout Southgate’s reign but a more pragmatic approach was on show yesterday.
That meant that Calvert-Lewin was asked to battle Belgium’s backline physically and win headers. He showed that’s something he’s more than capable of doing.
Calvert-Lewin was the most impressive performer of England’s front three, despite the fact he was the only one who finished the game without a goal.
Calvert-Lewin’s 33 touches were less than half the 72 Rashford had, but it was the Everton man who looked the more purposeful and sharper.
His lack of touches was a reflection of the poor quality service England afforded him and the way he was left isolated.
Getting shots away
Calvert-Lewin also had more shots than any England player. He got four shots away, and the rest of the England team took five between them.
Just the one was on target, which may be something Southgate looks at as a potential area of improvement.
Again, that is likely a product of the poor quality of chances England created for their frontman.
A good week away
Calvert-Lewin should return to Everton full of confidence after another good week away.
He’s still got one more chance to get on the scoresheet for the Three Lions this month, against Denmark on Wednesday.
Then, it’s all eyes on the Merseyside derby, where the former Sheffield United man should fancy his chances of netting past a backline which conceded seven goals last time around.