Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti will have been left encouraged with what he saw from Dominic Calvert-Lewin as Gareth Southgate awarded the Premier League’s hottest striker his senior England debut against Wales.
Calvert-Lewin started the international friendly held at Wembley Stadium on Thursday night in an attacking trio alongside Southampton’s Danny Ings and Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish, and impressed early doors with the opening goal of the night after 26-minutes.
Solid footwork on the wing from Grealish opened a pocket of space for the Aston Villa playmaker to perfectly lift the ball into the penalty area, where Calvert-Lewin had broken free between the defenders to nod home wisely under Wayne Hennessey.
The goal put Calvert-Lewin’s name down in the history books as the first Everton player since Gary Lineker against Turkey in October 1985 to score for England at Wembley, and came as the stuff of dreams for the 23-year-old.
“It’s a shame there are no fans here to celebrate and my family aren’t here,” Calvert-Lewin told ITV Sport after the game, via quotes by Goal. “It’s bittersweet in that sense but to score on my debut it’s the stuff of dreams.
“I’ve worked very hard to get here, it’s felt like a long road but I’m very happy to be here and to get the opportunity and the goal.”
Calvert-Lewin has already taken the Premier League by storm this season with his best start to a campaign since moving to Goodison Park, having struck home six goals in four games with an average 3.8 shots per match – only Tottenham Hotspur’s Heung-Min Son has found the net as much.
Now breaking onto the international scene with a debut goal would have encouraged Ancelotti even more, as the Italian will have been heartened to see the forward take what he has learned beyond Goodison Park and display his talents on a wider stage.
The Sheffield-born star’s goal was typical of who Calvert-Lewin has become in the past year as he drifted off the defenders to find the space, but it was not only the header that made his performance stand out despite being taken off on the hour mark.
Southgate also utilised the £21.6m-rated ace’s hold-up abilities to bring other players into the game, while Calvert-Lewin’s clever runs in behind the Wales backline offered his Three Lions teammates an option to pick out whenever they looked forward.
Calvert-Lewin may now find he makes it two outings from two when England host Belgium on Sunday evening in the UEFA Nations League, with Southgate noting after the Wales affair that certain players were brought off early as he looked ahead to more important fixtures.
“We definitely felt there were players we needed to protect given the balance of the squad and how we see the next week or so playing out,” said Southgate, via Sky Sports.