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Sterling steers England to 3-0 win over Ivory Coast

LONDON: England cruised to a 3-0 win over a 10-man Ivory Coast in an international friendly on Tuesday, set on their way by Raheem Sterling who created a goal for Ollie Watkins on his first start for his country and then scored the second himself.

The hosts opened the scoring in the 30th minute when Sterling, wearing the captain's arm band, battled to recover the ball before jinking past Serge Aurier and crossing for Watkins to tap in from close range for his second England goal.

Aurier picked up two yellow cards in quick succession, reducing the visitors to 10 men in the 40th minute, a few minutes before Sterling turned in a cross from Jack Grealish.

In the second half, Ivory Coast tried to hold their defensive line and not concede more goals but England defender Tyrone Mings sealed the win with almost the last touch of the game when he scored with a header from a Phil Foden corner.

England manager Gareth Southgate had made 10 changes from the side that beat Switzerland 2-1 in another friendly on Saturday, giving a first start to defender Tyrick Mitchell as well as Watkins.

But his hopes of giving a real test to his less-used players ahead of the World Cup in Qatar went out of the window when Aurier was sent off.

"I wanted (Aurier) to stay on because it's a friendly and you get more from playing against 11," Grealish told Sky Sports. "I think it would have been more of a challenge for us. I said to the referee 'come on!'"

Ivory Coast manager Patrice Beaumelle was critical of his skipper.

"He's a captain and now he is a mature player and he has to lead the group," Beaumelle said. "So when you leave the group like that at Wembley Stadium against England, all the team is finished."

He said striker Wilfried Zaha missed the game after picking up a hamstring injury during Ivory Coast's 2-1 friendly defeat to France last Friday and had returned to his English Premier League club Crystal Palace.

Source: Reuters

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