After seeing his team thrash Halmstads 6-1 in their second and final game of their pre-season tour of Scandinavia, Roy Hodgson was thrilled that his team ended the trip on a high.
Having drawn 2-2 against Helsingor last week, the Eagles hit their stride in Sweden and found themselves 4-1 up at the break thanks to a Patrick van Aanholt brace and goals from Christian Benteke and Sullay Kaikai, before James McArthur and Jason Puncheon got in on the act.
Having been inducted into the Halmstads Hall of Fame pre-game thanks to his exploits at the club in the 1970s, it was the perfect return for Hodgson, as well as the ideal foundations as his team aim to increase their sharpness ahead of the Premier League season in just under three weeks.
“It’s a delightful way to end a fantastic training camp,” he said. “It’s been as good as it could possibly be – we’ve got the fitness work in and the togetherness of the players has improved as they’ve really enjoy being around each other when they’re training at the stadium and living in the centre of town, so I was just hoping that we finished with a nice game. It’s even better we won it 6-1.
“The scoreline was good; it flattered us a little bit, certainly early on because I thought Halmstads started really lively and we looked a little slow, but when we started to move the ball a bit quicker the quality of players we have made it a little easier for us and scored some good goals.
“Patrick scored two great goals, there was a great strike by Sullay Kaikai and a wonderstrike from James McArthur so strangely enough, although we did dominate the game and possession, we scored very good goals that gave us the 6-1 victory.”
The only sour note for Hodgson was seeing Benteke limp off in the process of opening the scoring, but his replacement Kaikai shone for the second time in two outings. Having had a close look at him and Jonny Williams, as well as seeing Vicente Guaita debut against Helsingor, Hodgson has been pleased with his squad.
“I didn’t want any injuries but we got that with Benteke and that’s a bit unfortunate, so I can only hope it’s not too serious because he got on the scoresheet straight away tonight,” he added.
“Jonny trained with us a little bit in Beckenham so I saw some of him then, but then our work wasn’t too tactical and geared towards conditioning than actual play. This would have been the week where I would have looked forward to seeing him but he got injured in the very first training session so I’ve not seen him since we arrived.
“Sullay is a different kettle of fish because when he arrived he was in the first-team squad for quite a long time before we loaned him out to Charlton so I know of him and about his play, but I’m delighted to see how well he’s started this new season. He’s been very lively and good at stretching the defence, and he rounded off his performance tonight with an excellent goal.”