Jesse Lingard noted it was an “amazing feeling” to score for England during their 6-1 thumping of Panama at the World Cup on Sunday.
The Englishman, whose finishing was criticised against Tunisia, buzzed around the pitch with penetration and speed in Nizhny Novgorod, winning a penalty for England’s second and pulling Panama players all over the pitch.
And his goal was classic Lingard, starting out on the left hand side before playing a neat one-two with Raheem Sterling and curling a spellbinding effort into the top right hand corner.
Speaking after the game, the 25-year-old was pleased with his afternoon’s work on a truly remarkable day for the England side.
“It is an amazing feeling to score, even better that we won,” he said. “We are top of the table and can go into the Belgium game with confidence. It is great to be around the lads, there is a great team spirit at the moment.”
“Of course [England can win the World Cup] with the squad we have got and the confidence flowing I don’t see why not, but we will take it game by game.”
Lingard was typically laconic and monotone in his interview after the game. “I’m always like this in interviews,” he said at one point. His natural habitat, after all, is a long stretch away from the sea of microphones and cameras and voices of the eternal whirlwind that is the media.
He demonstrated yesterday once again where he looks most at home: on the pitch, playing with freedom and colour and endeavour, darting forward, scoring goals, genuinely enjoying himself on the pitch.
And this is why Lingard, more than anyone else, epitomises what is good about this Gareth Southgate team: that it simply enjoys being out there, seemingly untouched by the neurosis of past England sides.
The Englishman does not feel like he is stepping out into a cauldron, the weight of expectation resting painfully on his shoulders, when he plays in these big games. To him, he’s just out there doing what he loves.