Gareth Southgate was pleased to see England given a “good test” in difficult playing conditions after battling their way to victory over Kosovo in Pristina.
The Three Lions ran out 4-0 winners to ensure they will head to Euro 2020 among the top seeds but it was not as comfortable as the final scoreline might suggest against tricky opponents.
Harry Winks’ first-half goal put England in front but the visitors had to wait until the final 12 minutes to finish off Kosovo, with Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount adding late goals.
England boss Southgate, whose side were already assured of top spot in Group A, told ITV: “I think it was a tight game. It was a good test for us really. Difficult pitch, in particular, lots of people slipping and a few passes went astray.
“But we needed a tighter game. It was the sort of challenge I was pleased we got.
“We had to withstand spells of pressure, gave them a few half-chances that on another night could be more of a problem, but in the end our counter-attacking was absolutely ruthless.”
England captain Kane felt it was a professional performance in their final competitive match ahead of Euro 2020.
He said: “It was a difficult game, difficult pitch. They were up for it.
“We had already won the group so the mentality is not always easy to go again but we got it right.
“We got 1-0 up. We went through a few spells where they had some pressure but we soaked it up and then towards the end of the game, when the spaces started to open up, we were clinical. Four-nil is a great result.”
Raheem Sterling was recalled to the England starting line-up after being dropped for Thursday’s 7-0 win over Montenegro following an incident involving Joe Gomez at St George’s Park.
Gomez, who was left with a scratch on his face following the confrontation, was booed by fans when he came on at Wembley but the Liverpool defender did not travel to Kosovo after suffering a knee injury in training.
Southgate felt the return of Manchester City forward Sterling at the Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri drew a line under last week’s incident with Gomez.
He said: “I think that you have to work through any difficulties you have and the whole group have done that really well. I think we come out of this stronger than we started it, frankly.”