Darren Bent and Sue Smith give their verdicts on England’s 6-1 defeat of Panama


Sue Smith and Darren Bent watched England's 6-1 win over Panama in the studio – and the duo were purring after a 'clinical' performance.

Former England forward Darren Bent says England’s ‘ruthless’ performance against Panama was a step up on their opening win at the World Cup.

But Bent believes defending at set-pieces is an area the squad will need to work on as the tournament progresses.

Gareth Southgate’s squad are safely through to the last 16, thanks to a 6-1 demolition of an overmatched Panama team.

And, while England left it very late before beating Tunisia 2-1 in their opener, they were 5-0 up by half-time on Sunday after a buoyant first-half display.

0:59 Social media was rife with reaction as England defeated Panama to progress to the last 16 in Russia.

Bent said: “They were clinical, they were ruthless in the first half, with their decision making, their creativity – everything went in.

“Especially after the performance in the first half against Tunisia, where they should have had a few more but they didn’t, today they made no mistake.”

However, England did concede a consolation goal with just over 10 minutes left from a corner, and Bent thinks that will have irked Southgate.

“The goal will niggle at the manager,” he added. “He will still be looking at one or two things we have to improve on and one of them will be set-plays, where the goal came from.

“About 15 minutes before then, Panama had their best chance of the game, when a guy was at the back stick from another set-play, and that is the one area England need to improve.”

Former England international Sue Smith watched the game alongside Bent in the Sky Sports News studio and thought the performance was a textbook example of taking apart obdurate opposition.

“I was really impressed,” said Smith.

“People will say it was only Panama but you have to beat a team that are resilient and were well organised at the back, against Belgium in the first half [of their first game] particularly.

“We have seen at the World Cup that it is difficult for teams to break down a side who are putting every man behind the ball, but England managed to do that.

“They did it with quality, they moved the ball well, and were good without the ball as well.”