By Mark Weasley
England thrashed World Cup debutants Panama 6-1 on Sunday afternoon.
Harry Kane scored a hat-trick, which included two penalties and a fortuitous deflection on Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s shot – only his heel will have known too much about that one.
We also saw the collector’s item of a John Stones brace, which came thanks to Kieran Trippier’s impressive deliveries and a beautiful strike from Jesse Lingard which ensured England progressed to the Round of 16.
Lingard was particularly influential, putting in a performance that highlighted his increased importance – not just to England, but too ourselves. He didn’t break through immediately; his loan spells at Leicester, Birmingham, Brighton and Derby brought mixed results and it looked as though he would have to prove himself in the Championship before carving out a career anywhere near the top level.
He has persisted with admirable belief though and since Louis Van Gaal gave him his big break in 2015-16, he scored the winner in the FA Cup Final against Crystal Palace and has not looked back since. Jose Mourinho has taken to his selfless work rate, as well as his many other qualities.
Lingard makes smart decisions, he links play superbly and his clever movement makes him very hard to mark. While Harry Kane might understandably have hogged the headlines after scoring his first ever World Cup treble, Lingard put in a performance that not only won himself a standing ovation when he came off on 63 minutes, it also had Twitter purring with delight.
Here are some of the best tweets as regards his performance.
— 🖤 (@ridwana_zaman) June 25, 2018
— Róisín McDermott (@RoisinMcDermott) June 24, 2018
Can we take time out to appreciate that @JesseLingard goal today. 🤙🏾
— LPsoundsbetter (@LPsoundsbetter) June 24, 2018
— Ryan x (@SpikeIslandd) June 24, 2018
@JesseLingard after that goal best No7 in a England shirt ever!!⚽️
— Michael (@Therealmikey10) June 24, 2018
— Rishabh Sharma (@Rishabhrs7) June 24, 2018
After a difficult start to his career, Lingard is finally fulfilling his potential.