Gary Lineker has congratulated Bukayo Saka on his first goal for England after the teenager scored the winner in the Three Lions’ friendly with Austria on Wednesday night.
Saka, 19, converted from a tight angle in the 56th minute to fire his country to a 1-0 victory over Austria in a Euro 2020 warm-up game.
The versatile Arsenal star lined up in midfield for his fifth England cap and was one of the standout performers in a cagey affair at the Riverside Stadium.
Gareth Southgate’s side were arguably fortunate to emerge victorious after a late flurry of Austria chances, but that will do little to tarnish a special occasion for Saka.
Lineker – who scored 48 goals for England – took to Twitter to congratulate the youngster on opening his Three Lions account.
“Congratulations to Bukayo Saka on his first England goal,” wrote Lineker. “Such a wonderfully talented young footballer.”
Saka’s performance drew praise from England boss Southgate, who likened him to a “slippery eel” due to his phenomenal footwork and ability to drift past defenders.
“He’s got a lovely ability to receive in the traffic in the middle of the field,” said Southgate of Saka. “He’s like a slippery eel getting away from those challenges.”
Explaining why he called up Saka to his 26-man squad for the Euros earlier this week, Southgate said: “Firstly he’s performed exceptionally well for us and performed well in a team that’s had a difficult season.
“Sometimes young players can go into teams that are playing well and flourish. He’s gone into a team that have had a tough season and have really played with character as well as skill.
“Again we saw when he had to come on in Belgium [last autumn] real personality in his performance.
How impressive was Saka against Austria? Comment below.
“His adaptability, the fact he can play four or five different positions is a real plus for us.”
Saka has flourished as a winger, attacking midfielder, wing-back or full-back for Arsenal over the last two seasons.
He also drew lavish praise from Gunners legend Thierry Henry on Wednesday, with the Frenchman delighted by the youngster’s direct approach and dedication to the club.
“You could see that he wanted to run at people, he wanted the ball, he was brave on the ball,” Henry told Goal .
“It was too early to tell and when I saw him breaking into the first team because it was after I left.
“I was like: Wow, it’s amazing. I always liked the attitude of the kid, his commitment.
“And what I like about him is he cares about his club, and he will do whatever to make sure that the team wins.”
Saka will hope to add to his England tally at this summer’s Euros, although the Three Lions have another warm-up game to contend with first, against on Sunday against Romania.