Hodgson salutes squad after 10 wins out of 10

England's Ross Barkley (left) celebrates with Adam Lallana after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at the LFF Stadium, Vilnius, Lithuania
England's Ross Barkley (left) celebrates with Adam Lallana after scoring his side's first goal during the UEFA European Championship Qualifying match at the LFF Stadium, Vilnius, Lithuania

Roy Hodgson saluted his England players after they rounded off their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a 100 per cent record.

England recorded their 10th straight Group E win after beating Lithuania 3-0 in Vilnius thanks to goals from Ross Barkley, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and an own goal from home goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis.

I did believe the team could go unbeaten

Roy Hodgson

The only negative for England was that their fans became embroiled in nasty scuffles at the LFF Stadium with home supporters before kick-off and after Barkley had scored the first goal.

Having bought tickets in the home end, the England fans were mixing with their Lithuanian counterparts and it seemed inevitable there would be trouble.

Riot police were called in to separate the fans - some of whom sang anti-IRA songs.

The Football Association, which has been warned by FIFA about the chants before, will be hoping the skirmishes do not overshadow the impressive achievement of Hodgson and his players.

A year after being knocked out of the World Cup without a win, England will head to France next year with a 100 per cent qualifying record for the first time in this format.

Hodgson insists he never doubted his players could deliver a pristine qualifying record despite their early exit in Brazil.

“I did believe the team could go unbeaten,” the England manager said.

“It was a big goal to set - perhaps too big in some respects - but something in me said they are good players here, and we’re not dependent upon 11; if we play well, with focus and continue to try and get better, we could go through unbeaten.

“But qualification was the main thing. I would have been happy with six wins and four draws.”

Barkley set up Theo Walcott for England’s opener against Estonia last Friday and the Everton midfielder was the star of the show again on Monday.

The Everton midfielder scored a cracking goal from 25 yards to put England on their way to victory and his attacking runs caused the hosts problems all night.

Harry Kane’s shot struck a post and rolled in off Arlauskis’ back to make it 2-0 before Oxlade-Chamberlain rifled a fierce drive past the Watford goalkeeper to round off the win.

Hodgson has been loath to praise Barkley too much since he called the 21-year-old into the fold for the first time, but the England manager had some encouraging words of praise for the midfielder after his display in Vilnius.

“We always believed in Ross and it’s nice to see him maturing game by game, for Everton and England,” Hodgson added.

“The game was very important, getting us off the mark, so we were pleased with him.

“Being in a comfortable position allowed me to give a few other guys a chance and give others a rest.

“I was pleased with the victory and the performance. From the offset we showed our intentions and were very dominant from the first minute.

“It’s a nice feeling to have played 10 matches and showed the quality of football and concentration to win them.”

Igoris Pankratjevas did not hang around to give his verdict on the match.

The Lithuania coach entered the press conference room and walked out after giving a brief resignation speech.

“Everything has its ending. This is the end of the qualifying cycle and my job,” said Pankratjevas, whose team finished second bottom of Group E.

“I’m resigning from the team. I want to thank everyone for supporting me and the team. Goodbye.”