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England's 'electric' Raheem Sterling no surprise to manager Gareth Southgate

Raheem Sterling scored his first international hat trick and won a penalty kick as England thumped the Czech Republic in Euro 2020 qualifying.

England manager Gareth Southgate hailed "electric" Raheem Sterling as the Manchester City forward, not long ago a target for boos, scored his first international hat trick in the 5-0 thrashing of the Czech Republic on Friday.

A slick England attack ran rings around the Czechs with teenager Jadon Sancho outstanding alongside captain Harry Kane, but Sterling stole the show.

The 24-year-old converted Sancho's cross after 23 minutes and then won the penalty that Kane powered in on the stroke of half-time.

Sterling struck twice in the space of seven minutes in the second half before being substituted to a standing ovation from the Wembley crowd.

"I thought Raheem was electric all night. He has looked like that all week in training. I'm pleased for him, it is a special night for him," manager Gareth Southgate said.

"I think he's really matured as a person and a footballer. He's hungry for goals and hitting things instinctively without thinking too much."

Having gone three years and 27 England appearances without a goal, Sterling has now scored five in his last three, having bagged a brace in a 3-2 Nations League win over Spain in October. He also has 15 Premier League goals for City this season.

"Raheem didn't surprise me," Southgate said. "He is in a very confident moment on and off the field and is comfortable in himself.

"I'm delighted for him to get that reaction from the crowd. We can't hide from the fact that he's had difficult moments for England but he's turned that full circle.

"He is hungry for those goals and I thought he was devastating tonight."

With nearly a half century of caps, Sterling is now seen as one of the "leadership group" in the squad, Southgate added.

"He's a role model for the younger players coming in. He has enjoyed the extra responsibility and that's shining through on the pitch."

England play Montenegro in another Euro qualifier on Monday, and Southgate indicated that he would make changes to his lineup.

"I think we need to find the balance between freshness and continuity, so that's been on our mind most of the week," he said.

"I need to have a look at their game [a 1-1 draw in Bulgaria] to finalise what we expect, but we know we have been there twice before and not managed to beat them, so it will be an intense environment."

Southgate said he believed the atmosphere in the England squad had created an environment in which younger players such as Hudson-Odoi could thrive.

"They don't feel inhibited around the camp, so they don't feel inhibited on the pitch and you could see that by the way they played on the pitch," he said.

"We're asking them to try things, we're asking our attacking players to take players on and as the coach you have to accept that they'll fail a number of times and the times they succeed, we'll create chances and we'll create goals."

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