Jermain Defoe scored on his return to the England international team as the Three Lions cruised to an easy 2-0 win over Lithuania in the World Cup qualifiers for Russia 2018.
Before the kick-off for the European Group F qualifier a minute of silence was observed at Wembley for the victims of last week’s London attack. A tribute was also paid to former England manager Graham Taylor, who died in January.
Sunderland forward Defoe then proceeded to justify his international call-up despite being 34 years of age. It was his first England appearance since late 2013, which he summed up with a clinical finish after 21 minutes and a lively performance, suggesting that we could see more of him yet under coach Gareth Southgate as he also becomes the 22nd player to reach the 20-goal mark.
England’s win was then all but assured as Jamie Vardy, coming in for Defoe, also made a clinical finished after Adam Lallana’s delicate touch found him free inside the penalty area.
Lithuania made little effort in going forward, and with defeat all but assured as Vardy’s goal, merely resorted to staying inside in their own half for damage control.
“It was a great moment for him,” Southgate said on Defoe after the match. “He was thrilled to be back involved in the squad and he’s enjoyed his week immensely.”
“He’s been a good senior professional to have around the team, both in terms of the way he’s trained, his professionalism which has been great for the younger players to see and his finishing in training and then today, which we expected really.”
“I would have put my house on him scoring at some stage against Lithuania,” Southgate joked on Defoe’s goal. “He’s had a really positive impact on everybody. We’ve selected him on form. We’ve got really good competition for places. We need to have that.”