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Bukayo Saka heading into Euro 2020 knockout stages with confidence

Saka, 19, was named star of the match by UEFA after a fine showing.

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England’s Bukayo Saka, right, is congratulated by manager Gareth Southgate (Mike Egerton/PA)

England’s Bukayo Saka, right, is congratulated by manager Gareth Southgate (Mike Egerton/PA)

England’s Bukayo Saka, right, is congratulated by manager Gareth Southgate (Mike Egerton/PA)

Bukayo Saka will take confidence from his “fun” performance against the Czech Republic after the England winger starred in a narrow win.

The Three Lions advanced into the last 16 of the European Championship in top spot after Raheem Sterling’s early header earned them 1-0 Wembley win.

Saka, 19, was named star of the match by UEFA after a fine showing in what was his debut appearance in a tournament game for England.

The Arsenal forward will now be aiming to keep his place as Gareth Southgate’s men look to tackle the knockout stages, with Saka admitting his display against the Czechs is something to build on.

“The performance does give me confidence,” he said.

“Most importantly gives the team confidence. That’s our third clean sheet and of course we scored a goal tonight and could have scored more, played some good football.

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“For myself I take a lot of confidence from the performance and I think the team will as well.”

England were already assured of qualification before they kicked off on Tuesday night but the win saw them progress as winners of Group D.

Asked what instructions were given by Southgate ahead of the game, Saka added: “To play, have fun.

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Bukayo Saka (right) said Gareth Southgate encouraged England to express themselves (Mike Egerton/PA)

Bukayo Saka (right) said Gareth Southgate encouraged England to express themselves (Mike Egerton/PA)

PA

Bukayo Saka (right) said Gareth Southgate encouraged England to express themselves (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Play with freedom and express yourself. We had already qualified so there was no pressure on us. Just have fun out there and that’s what I tried to do.”

The reward for topping the group is a Wembley date against the runner-up of Group F, with Saka confident home advantage can play a part.

“I think it’s vital,” he said.

“We know the stadium. We have played here many times and won here many times.

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Euro 2020 round of 16 fixtures (PA Graphics)

Euro 2020 round of 16 fixtures (PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

Euro 2020 round of 16 fixtures (PA Graphics)

“Now we have our fans back it will be a real push for us and give us a lot of confidence whoever we come up against.

“The objective was to top the group and qualify, and we have done that. That’s job done. Now it’s onto the next round.

“Of course it is going to be much harder teams but we can take a lot of confidence having not conceded a single goal and having played really well in this last game, playing some good attacking football.

“Going into the next game, whoever we come up against, we go into it with real confidence, especially with it being at Wembley as well with our fans.”


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