England took a huge step towards securing qualification for next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia by sealing a 2-1 victory over Slovakia at Wembley on Monday night.
It was the visitors who broke the deadlock in the third minute but goals either side of half-time from Eric Dier and Marcus Rashford sealed all three points for Gareth Southgate’s team, who will finish top of Group F if they beat Slovenia next month.
However, the victory was overshadowed slightly by an incident in the second half involving Dele Alli.
The Tottenham attacking midfielder was caught on camera pointing his middle finger at somebody on the pitch, although it wasn’t clear who the gesture was directed towards.
Southgate was asked about it in his post-match interview with ITV Sport but insisted: “Not seen it but obviously we’ll have a look at it over the next couple of days.”
Was it aimed at Martin Skrtel?
The Mirror speculated that Alli made the gesture towards Martin Skrtel, the former Liverpool defender.
People on Twitter also thought this was the case…
Was it aimed at the referee?
The Telegraph, meanwhile, said that Alli stuck his middle finger up in the ‘general direction’ of referee Clement Turpin because he was angry with ‘a perceived lack of protection’ from the official’s following rough treatment from the aforementioned Skrtel.
Southgate presumably questioned Alli immediately after his interview with ITV because he cleared up the situation - or attempted to, anyway - in his post-match press conference.
Southgate reveals who it was aimed at
Per The Times’ chief football writer Henry Winter and others, Southgate told reporters: “Dele and Kyle Walker were messing about and Dele made [the] gesture towards Kyle. They have strange way of communicating!”
You can say that again, Gareth.
Dele Alli clears the situation up on Twitter
This was backed up by Alli himself on Twitter about an hour-and-a-half after the game had finished.
“Just to clarify, the gesture tonight was a joke between me and my good friend Kyle Walker!” the 21-year-old wrote. “Apologies for any offence caused! Great win 2nite.”
Not everyone believes him
However, perhaps unsurprisingly, not everyone was buying Southgate and Alli’s version of events…
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