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Southgate hails 'outstanding' Lingard after England debut

Gareth Southgate hailed Jesse Lingard's "outstanding" debut as the England interim manager's first match in charge ended in a 2-0 victory against Malta at Wembley.

First-half efforts from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli eased England to a straightforward victory, although it could not add more goals to the scoreline despite dominating possession.

Alli in particular was guilty of spurning numerous chances after being handed the No. 10 role, with captain Wayne Rooney deeper in midfield, but it was Manchester United attacker Lingard who caught Southgate's eye.

"Jesse Lingard had an outstanding debut and looked a real threat," Southgate told ITV. "That's why we wanted to start him. He's got a strong mentality and he's an exciting player. The stage is made for him and he's scored twice at Wembley for United."

Southgate felt some of his players were guilty of reducing their energy levels in the second half with England's next game, in Slovenia on Tuesday, in the back of their minds.

"I thought in the first half we played well and we could and should have had more goals," Southgate said. "Their goalkeeper made good saves.

"One or two players looked after themselves physically. We made positive changes and missed good chances but given where we were 10 days ago I'm pleased with the result but there is room to improve on the performance.

"I think players subconsciously know the game is won and we could have made it more comfortable but some of them were thinking about the next game which comes quickly.

"Each game is a different challenge. The next opposition [Slovenia] play a different style and we're away, we look at all those things. We have a couple of injuries to assess and we'll know more in the next few days, but we have good depth to make changes."