Jose Mourinho has claimed that Raheem Sterling played a similar role for England on Sunday to the one Son Heung-min does for Tottenham.
Harry Kane’s formidable partnership with Son has been the source of a large proportion of Tottenham’s goals this season, with the England captain often dropping in between the lines while the South Korean makes runs beyond the opposition backline.
That is a dynamic that has also worked for England in the past, with Kane dropping off and picking out the runs of the likes of Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling.
It was Sterling who started alongside Kane and Phil Foden for England against Croatia on Sunday and the Manchester City star repaid Gareth Southgate’s faith by netting the Three Lions’ winner.
The goal came as a result of Kane pulling the Croatian centre-backs away to open up space down the middle for Sterling to run into, with the City man being played through by Kalvin Phillips.
Mourinho insisted that the 26-year-old’s runs at Wembley on Sunday were similar to that of Son’s.
The Portuguese coach told talkSPORT: “I think Harry Kane did half of the job too without touching the ball because these kind of strikers know how difficult it is to play against these guys.
“Without touching the ball, they create problems for their defence. It’s what happened to [Domagoj] Vida. Instead of giving cover to Raheem’s run, he was chasing Harry’s movement.
“So Harry’s not touching the ball, but he did half of the job.
“Of course Kalvin made the run, was composed and saw Harry’s movement but didn’t pass the ball to Harry. Then he sees the space and he plays that ball.”
He added: “Without touching the ball he opened the gap and Sterling made the run. Like [Heung-min] Son at Tottenham did that so many times.
“It’s a goal that gives the three points, but in the end, I don’t think it was just the goal, it was the collective performance.
“It was the control, stability and pragmatism of what a team has to be.”
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