Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley resplendent as Harry Kane bags hat-trick in easy England win

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Harry Kane’s hat-trick helped blow away Bulgaria and continue England‘s European Championship qualification cakewalk.

Bulgaria are not the side they once were and the 1994 World Cup semi-finalists set up to frustrate England, only for needlessly overconfident play at the back to bring about Kane’s opener midway through the first half.

The England captain netted his second when Marcus Rashford was brought down in the box early in the second half, with the striker turning provider as Sterling bundled home minutes later.

Kane would end the day celebrating his second international hat-trick after scoring his second penalty of the day, adding gloss to another big win that England will look to build on against Kosovo in Southampton this Tuesday.

Here’s how the players rated:

Jordan Pickford: Was tested on four occasions and never looked like conceding, with his second-half save from Wanderson particularly impressive. 8

Kieran Trippier: Recalled to the side and making his first England appearance since October last year, Trippier got up and down the flank well. 6

Michael Keane: Earned a yellow card in the first half for a clumsy challenge, but rarely tested defensively. 6

Harry Maguire: Covered ground when he needed to and bullied Bulgaria’s attack in a commanding display. 7

Danny Rose: Rose has struggled for Spurs this season, but was a constant threat down the left. 7

Jordan Henderson: Worked hard and saw plenty of the ball, but not his most influential display for his country. 6

Declan Rice: Showed tenacity and steel in the middle of the park in a display which suggests he will be in this team for some time. 7

Ross Barkley: Made the Three Lions tick with a virtuoso performance and always looked to get on the ball. 8

Raheem Sterling: Made England’s first goal with his tireless pressing and added his seventh goal in seven international games. 8

Harry Kane: Took himself above Geoff Hurst on the list of England goalscorers to 25 with a hat-trick, two of them penalties, while also adding an assist. 9

Marcus Rashford: His pace frightened Bulgaria and his skill won England’s first penalty, while almost adding a late fifth. 7

SUBS

Mason Mount (on for Henderson, 66): Given his international debut and bombed forward but made no real impact. 6

Jadon Sancho (on for Sterling, 71): Could not expose a tired Bulgaria defence despite some promising positions. 6

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (On for Kane, 77): Looked neat and tidy on his first England appearance since March 2018. 6

Recommended

Most popular

Harry Kane hat-trick blows away Bulgaria as England Euro 2020 qualification cakewalk continues

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Hat-trick hero: Harry Kane.

Harry Kane‘s hat-trick helped blow away Bulgaria and continue England’s European Championship qualification cakewalk.

After finishing third in the inaugural Nations League over the summer, the Three Lions got their international season under way at the stadium they hope to end the campaign at when Wembley hosts the Euro 2020 final.

England are among the favourites to lift the trophy next summer and qualification for the finals is well in hand, with March’s drubbings of the Czech Republic and Montenegro followed by a 4-0 win against Bulgaria thanks to Kane’s treble and a Raheem Sterling goal.

Despite humility being the buzzword around the camp in the build-up, this was the kind of result expected by the sell-out Wembley crowd on Saturday.

Bulgaria are not the side they once were and the 1994 World Cup semi-finalists set up to frustrate England, only for needlessly overconfident play at the back to bring about Kane’s opener midway through the first half.

The England captain netted his second when Marcus Rashford was brought down in the box early in the second half, with the striker turning provider as Sterling bundled home minutes later.

Kane would end the day celebrating his second international hat-trick after scoring his second penalty of the day, adding gloss to another big win that England will look to build on against Kosovo in Southampton this Tuesday.

Southgate kept with the tried and tested for a match against a Bulgarian side that sat deep from the outset.

Kane was closely marshalled early on and the visitors’ backline was up to six-men deep when England were in possession.

Jordan Henderson’s hopeful volley was the best they could muster as they patiently prodded and probed, with a correct offside call denying the hosts a 19th-minute opener after Kane fired home a low Sterling cross.

But soon Bulgaria became the architects of their own downfall.

Playing out from the back is noble but perhaps foolhardy when Sterling is about. The England forward nipped in to cut out goalkeeper Plamen Iliev’s poor ball to Vasil Bozhikov, who he darted past before slowing down and crossing for Kane to fire home.

It was a 24th minute gut punch that Bulgaria were always going to struggle to recover from, even if it was not the precursor to a glut of first-half goals. Kane’s header from returning right-back Kieran Trippier’s cross was the best England would muster before the break.

Bulgaria had been camped in their own territory for the bulk of the first half, with Wanderson and Galin Ivanov having their only attempts before the former tested Jordan Pickford from an acute angle just after half-time.

Hope of a shock equaliser would be short-lived, though, as Rashford burst down the left flank and drew a clumsy challenge out of Nikolay Bodurov. Kane stepped up to send Iliev the wrong way as the resulting penalty flew into the top right-hand corner.

Harry Maguire headed wide as England pushed for a third that would arrive in the 55th minute as Kane’s cross was turned home from close range by Sterling.

Mexican waves rippled around Wembley with the sting taken out of the proceedings, with Chelsea talent Mason Mount brought on for his England debut in place of Henderson.

But Kane ensured he would take both the headlines and match ball.

Kristian Dimitrov’s recovery challenge on the striker led referee Marco Guida to point to the spot, with the skipper dusting himself down to lash home.

Pickford produced a Hollywood stop from Ivelin Popov’s free-kick to prevent Bulgaria grabbing a consolation, while opposite number Iliev denied Rashford a superb goal after playing a one-two with Ross Barkley.

Most popular

Euro 2020: Germany and Dutch serve up a treat, while Wales are far from wonderful

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Gini Wijnaldum celebrates his goal to make it 4-2.

Football fans rarely welcome an international break with open arms, but a seismic showdown between Germany and the Netherlands on the road to Euro 2020 qualifying was at least enough to whet the appetite for the first interruption to the 2019/20 domestic season.

There were big wins for Austria, Denmark, Bosnia, Belgium and Croatia.

Here’s our round-up of the major talking points from the first round of games, headlined by that mouthwatering match-up.

LIVING UP TO THE BILLING

De Jong

Some special players on show and we got a special game to match, as well as some special goals. Big games between big sides don’t always deliver the big payoff they threaten, but this encounter in Hamburg was a humdinger.

A dynamic young Dutch squad continues to grow under Ronald Koeman. The 56-year-old was an attack-minded centre-half with a devastating goalscoring knack and he is beginning to stamp his mark on this side, one that is very much on the rise after a near decade in the doldrums.

Gini Wijnaldum put in a magical performance, with first an impish and intuitive touch to set up debutant Donyell Malen, 20, for a dream goal to make it 3-2. He then nailed Germany’s coffin shut when he calmly side-footed home in stoppage time for Memphis Depay’s devilish delivery.

Besides Malen it was a showcase for the bright young Oranje stars, with Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong, 22, imperious, notching two key passes while his intricate first touch and finish to bring the visitors level at 1-1 was incredible.

Matthijs de Ligt, meanwhile, is making light work of the international stage, jointly leading the side with three aerials won and generally making his presence felt in both boxes. He gave away the penalty that Toni Kroos coolly despatched but its award was cruel in the extreme on the oblivious 20-year-old. Depay was also deadly as a creative force, making four key passes, one of which teed up Wijnaldum.

It was sweet revenge for the Dutch who had been beaten 3-2 when the two sides met in Amsterdam March. Nico Schulz had scored a 90th-minute winner on that occasion but Koeman’s side returned the favour and got their qualification campaign back on track in the process.

Big games don’t always deliver. This one did. And so too is this current crop of rich Dutch talent.

DRAGONS FAILING TO FIRE

Bale scored the winner minutes from the end.

Bale’s late winner rescued Wales from embarrassment.

Wales got their campaign back on track following two demoralising defeats to Hungary and Croatia, but fans will have woken with a bittersweet taste in their mouths on Saturday morning.

On the one hand they plodded to a one-goal win over one of the worst teams in Europe, who dwell 85 places below them. Then again, two cataclysmic errors, first from Neil Taylor and then Wayne Hennessey, contributed to a needlessly tense finale against Azerbaijan after the hosts had dominated.

Wales have an exciting new young generation emerging and they impressed. Ethan Ampadu, 20, looks at home in the Welsh midfield while Daniel James, 21, was a threat on either flank. Swansea centre-back Joe Rodon, 21, looked rock solid on his international debut. He and Chris Mepham, also 21, look like they could potentially forge a partnership for the foreseeable future.

Most worrisome though is how coach Ryan Giggs does not seem to have much of a strategy for how he wants his team to play. It all began brightly. A 6-0 thrashing of China was the nation’s biggest victory in 22 years, while September 2018’s 4-1 thrashing of the Republic of Ireland in the Nations League saw the Dragons seemingly light the blue touch paper on a fiery new era led by new stars who could burn bright for a long time in David Brooks and Ampadu. And yet, since then the revolution has stalled. Wales have returned six defeats in their last 10 games and the pressure is mounting.

Giggs is presiding over arguably the most talented squad Wales have ever had, but heads are being shook as to why he is not getting the best out of them. Fail to qualify for Euro 2020 and his head could be rolling.

CROATIA IN COMMAND

Modric

Elsewhere in Group E, 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia put down a marker for top spot contention with a commanding performance as Slovakia were put to the sword 4-0. Zlatko Dalic’s side have been efficient rather than electrifying during their campaign so far. They laboured to a 2-1 opening day victory over Azerbaijan, which required a late Andrej Kramaric winner. Then they slipped to a 2-1 defeat against Hungary and won by the same scoreline at home to Wales.

But they were ruthless on Friday, tearing the hosts apart in Trnava with four different goalscorers finding the net. It made a mockery of the fact both sides started the day on six points. Now they’re joint top with Hungary and will be favourites to press home their advantage and take top spot in the second half of the campaign.

RED DEVILS LOOK RAVISHING

Michy Batshuayi scored a brace for Belgium.

Michy Batshuayi scored a brace for Belgium.

Another team to find the net four times on Friday were the team at top spot in world football, Belgium. Their meeting with the team at the complete opposite of the spectrum – San Marino are 211th – ended as presumed, in easy victory.

So fans of the Rode Duivels (Red Devils) nor Roberto Martinez will be getting too excited by a routine 4-0 thrashing. But a squad that has really come into its own over the last three years is purring perfectly. A commanding start to qualifying sees them sit top of Group I with an imperious 15 points – Spain and Italy are the only other teams with a 100 per cent start.

Only the Azzurri have scored more goals (16) than Belgium’s 15, at a rate of three per game. And only the Ukraine and England can match their defensive record of just one goal conceded, though both have played less games than Belgium’s five. The Red Devils look ravishing.

Most popular