Gareth Southgate was pleased that Wayne Rooney had achieved the expulsion he deserved, even though the post-match emotional speech from the English meant that the coach had to relinquish his critical interrogation.
The Wembley crowd helped honor the all-time top scorer and best player of Las Vegas against the United States on Thursday when the striker was within inches of scoring his 120th and last goal with an unforgettable goal.
It would have been a dream to finish with a 3-0 win that made Southgate honor Rooney and build for the future with Callum Wilson – one of the three rookies – completing the scoring after Jesse Lingard and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the first half.
There will be widespread changes when Croatia visits this year's Wembley meeting, where Rooney's speech saved the players a few harsh words on Thursday night.
"I thought some of our attack moves, the first half hour and the last 20 minutes, were really exciting," Southgate said.
"Some really nice moments for some of the rookies, in particular, for some of the young players – for Trent to get his first goal in England, a very well-crafted move, good decision and Jadon's (Sancho) weight pass.
"Great for Callum to achieve his goal – he would probably feel he could have had this before in the game – then some good times there.
"I did not like us so much without the ball. Sometimes we thought we were great, but sometimes the US passed us very easily and, at the end of the game, we did not play discipline.
"We got caught up in transition and open, and if we do that on Sunday, we're going to lose." We did not have this discussion because Wayne made a very good speech at the end and I did not want to rain on his parade!
"But we will clarify this point in the coming days, because against the best teams … well, if we want to be a top team, we can not simply reach 3-0 and just play with the ball and not without it, and not playing with intelligence.
"If we're relentless, we have to make sure we get the right path during the game."
While DC United striker Rooney now enjoys a period of inactivity after Major League Soccer, England focuses on winning the A4 Group.
The winner of Sunday's World Cup semi-final clash is fascinating, with both sides capable of beating Group A4 or being relegated after Croatia shocked Spain 3-2 on Thursday night.
"It shows the quality that Croatia has," said Southgate.
"We knew it would be a difficult match because I think probably the first game they've had at home since the World Cup with a crowd so it would have been an electric atmosphere."
"They showed not only their quality, but their stamina again to win at 93 minutes.
"It's a brilliant end to the year and I think it's already been an exhausted audience and it's a very successful game, which is exactly the kind of test we want."
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