England had the luxury - almost unheard of at international level - of a week to prepare for a home game against Germany and it showed in the way they harassed their opponents, with Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips playing a key part by winning the ball back 11 times in midfield.
With their next game in Rome on Saturday, Southgate must decide if he needs changes to freshen the team.
“We knew the intensity we can play at and not many teams can deal with it,” said Sterling, scorer of England’s opening goal, and their first three in the competition. “The two boys in midfield, Declan (Rice) and Phillips, they were class, they ate up ground. An all-round great team performance.”
Manager Southgate acknowledged: “The preparation time (for Saturday’s game against Ukraine) is really short so there’s much less time on the training pitch. We were able to work in unusual depth because we don’t normally get that time on the pitch.
“It’s going to be about recovery and being psychologically in the right place (for Saturday’s game) and this is where the squad has been so good.”
He also lamented not being able to show his attacking players “the love they need” after leaving Sheffield-born Dominic Calvert-Lewin off Tuesday’s 12-man bench.
“We’ve got so many attacking options. It’s hard to give them all the love they need,” said the former centre-back. “As a forward you need to feel that love.
“They’re accepting and understanding of needing to be patient, needing to wait for their moments right across the board with Marcus (Rashford), with Jadon (Sancho), with Dominic, with Jack (Grealish).
“They’ve really understood and sacrificed themselves for the group. It’s only by doing that you get to the stages we are.”