Will Jones writes about football. When he's not doing that he's a  filmmaker  and occasional stand-up comedian.  Jones is an Arsenal fan. It's his cross, he bears it.

Will Jones writes about football. When he's not doing that he's a filmmaker and occasional stand-up comedian.

Jones is an Arsenal fan. It's his cross, he bears it.

Will Almond is also a Will, and also writes about football. What a world.  Almond is a Leeds fan, so he's just cross - largely down to years of boardroom ineptitude.

Will Almond is also a Will, and also writes about football. What a world.

Almond is a Leeds fan, so he's just cross - largely down to years of boardroom ineptitude.

England vs Panama player ratings…sort of

England vs Panama player ratings…sort of

Jordan Pickford

One hairy moment. We all knew he had that in him. Hopefully he got it out of his system in a match England were always going to win. Hopefully. Hopeful. Hope. Football… is it… is it coming home?

 

Kieran Trippier

Another really impressive performance. Wonderful delivery to Stones for the opener. Right on the penalty spot with enough loft to give time for Stones to get free, but not so much that the keeper could come. If Walker is dropped at centre back, he should lose his place entirely, not replace one of England’s most impressive players at this tournament.

 

Kyle Walker

Still unconvincing in the middle. Some wayward passing in England’s wayward opening five minutes, and he followed the ball for Godoy’s early chance leaving him all alone at the back stick. Hesitated to make several crucial decisions, notably when he ran the ball out for a corner. You can pick the ball up for a goal kick if you like Kyle, but we all saw it…

 

John Stones

Stepped gloriously out of the shadow of his anonymous name to score his own, and Raheem Sterling’s, goals. Oh god, don’t you wish Sterling’s had gone in? Misplaced a few passes early on, especially one aimed at Young, but definitely settled in. Did well to hold his own against a ‘physical’ Panama side and always seemed to be well positioned. Because he’s actually a centre-back. Unlike Kyle Walker. Sorry, sorry, yes, we won 6-1.

 

Harry ‘off The BillMaguire

A relatively anonymous performance. More armed robber no.3 than DCI Maguire. Largely did what he was asked once again though. Arguably at fault for Panama’s goal, but that looked like a team communication issue as much as an individual mistake.

 

Ashley Young

Relatively unremarkable. Looked a bit gormless for Murillo’s chance and needs to communicate better with Maguire. Like Henderson, looked an old head. Which he is… we’re still struggling with the idea that Ashley Young is 32 years old to be honest.

 

Jordan Henderson

A Liverpool attic. A picture that looks very much like Jordan Henderson plays sideways passes to himself. They bounce back off the edge of the frame. Meanwhile, the real Jordan Henderson on a field in Russia kept things ticking over and looked to be more adventurous when it was on. Was a real leader on the field, keeping England players calm to make sure they didn’t react to some questionable challenges. Provided a lovely dink as part of the off the training ground move (which it appears he called) for Stones’ second goal too.

The number 8 shirt still feels wrong, but if that’s the only criticism.

 

Jesse Lingard

Fin-essé Lingard (as he will henceforth be known) held down R1 and caressed the ball into the top bin. Glorious. Won a penalty after another finessed touch with his chest. A mature, determined, and gifted performance which was all the more impressive after he took an elbow to the face two minutes in. He fully rewarded Southgate’s faith. In-Gareth-etc.

 

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

If the entire match was men against boys then Loftus-Cheek was very much the Y11 who had trials but still enjoyed knocking seven shades out of the Y8s. Towering above them, literally and metaphorically, Loftus-Cheek fully justified his selection. Strong in the tackle and good with the ball at his feet. Whether Dele Alli will regain his place after a mediocre performance against Tunisia remains to be seen. He will though.

 

Raheem Sterling

Wonderful work in the build-up to Lingard’s beautiful goal. A perfectly flicked pass with the outside of his boot as you might expect from England’s most technically gifted player, demonstrating an unselfishness you might not. Except you would, because this is Raheem Sterling, a man who helped his mum clean toilets as a kid, and then bought her a house once he’d made it. Oh god, don’t you wish that header had gone in?

Aside from that flick, another poor performance by his own high standards. Lashed one wide late on but wasn’t nearly as influential as he, and indeed we, might’ve hoped or expected.

 

Harry Kane

The one* whose voice you could hear singing the anthem as the camera panned across. The one who believes. The patriot. The player (according to the S*n) England can be proud of**. We were certainly proud of him as he set about dismantling the MLS-farmed Panama defence.

He scored two penalties that looked like the net had caused him some deep personal offence – I mean, he does have a track record with that. And on an unrelated note, he’s now branched out from claiming goals that graze his shoulder to grabbing the Golden Boot lead with a goal deflected off the back of his heel from 18-yards.

Anyway, if Jamie Vardy’s having a party, then Harry Kane is very much chartering a plane to carry a heavy cargo, because… FOOTBALL. IS COMING. HOME.

*Actually, to be fair, you could hear Gareth as well. Belting out the anthem in his waistcoat like an overenthusiastic Royal Wedding volunteer.

**Just a note too, we were proud of him because he scored three goals. Not because he’s white.

The England shirt: What it was, is, and... could become?

The England shirt: What it was, is, and... could become?

Relying without accepting: Messi, Argentina and Ronaldo

Relying without accepting: Messi, Argentina and Ronaldo