Saka was handed his first start for the Three Lions at a major international tournament as Southgate rang the changes in a bid to win Group D.
And the Arsenal star didn’t disappoint, turning in a dynamic display as he created the goal which ensures England will remain at Wembley for the last-16 stage.
It was Saka’s driving run forward just 12 minutes in which opened up the Czechs’ defence, with the ball eventually finding its way to Jack Grealish who whipped in a cross for Raheem Sterling to head home.
And it seems Southgate has been taking his lead from Mikel Arteta – as he fired Saka up for the game by telling the 19-year-old to do what he has been doing for the Gunners all season.
“It was a really good performance from us,” Saka told ITV Sport after the 1-0 win, which ensured top spot for England after they had already qualified for the knockout stages.
“We played some really good football at times. With us already having qualified, we had more freedom to express ourselves. That showed in some of the football we played.
“The manager told me to go out and express myself. To play how I have played for my club all season. Sometimes that means dropping in and driving at the opponents and I did that and got us up the pitch.”
After carving out the opening, Saka almost got on the end of Grealish’s cross himself as he charged into the middle – but it went over his head and dropped for Sterling.
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“It was a good cross from Jack for the goal and Raheem was in the right place at the right time again,” he said. “I was up there but not quite tall enough.”
Asked whether it was important to win the group and book a Wembley spot for next week, Saka said: “Yeah it’s important to be at Wembley because we’ve played here a lot and won here a lot, so we have a lot of confidence when we’re playing in the stadium.”
And he hailed England’s supporters, saying: “With our fans it’s an extra man for us, and it’s going to be a real boost for us to stay here at Wembley.”
Saka was brought into the starting line-up after Mason Mount was ruled out, with the Chelsea midfielder having to self-isolate after last week coming into contact with club-mate Billy Gilmour, who has since tested positive for coronavirus.
Mount could also miss England’s last-16 clash next Tuesday against the runners-up from Group F – featuring France, Portugal, Germany and Hungary.
And Saka is hoping he has done enough to convince Southgate to start him again against whoever finishes second in the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’.
Asked if he can keep his place, Saka said: “I hope so, it’s always up to the manager. I can only come in and give my best when I’m on the pitch so we’ll wait and see.”