Interim manager Gareth Southgate’s delight at his players’ attacking freedom was tempered somewhat by the sloppy moments that threatened to derail England’s ultimately comprehensive win against old foes Scotland.
The penultimate match of a turbulent year brought a smile to supporters’ faces at Wembley, where the Three Lions overcame their neighbours 3-0 in Friday’s World Cup qualifier.
England rode their luck at times after Daniel Sturridge’s opener, but matters could have been worse for Gordon Strachan’s side had Raheem Sterling not inexplicably missed after Adam Lallana and Gary Cahill’s headers.
It was Scotland’s heaviest defeat to the Auld Enemy since 1975 and strengthened Southgate’s chances of retaining the job beyond his four-match interim spell.
Such talk is on the back-burner until after Tuesday’s glamour friendly with Spain, when the former defender hopes for a similar attacking display but knows more concerted defensive effort will be required.
“For the team (I am delighted),” he said. “For the players to come through a real pressure environment and win and, in the end, enjoy their football.
“The game is always different when the scoreline is as it in the last 10-15 minutes, so they were able to experience playing at Wembley with some freedom and some lovely interplay and control the game.
“However, before that point there were some moments where we weren’t as controlled and we had to dig in at times.
“Some of our play with the ball and our interchanging of positions was excellent, very exciting.
“Some of our first phase build-up play was sloppy and we caused our own problems, really, and gave up more opportunities than we should have.
“Lots to reflect and improve upon, but also some really pleasing things in terms of some individual performances, of the way we used the ball in the second two thirds of the field and the way we pressed with energy.
“That is something we were conscious to give our supporters as well.”