England took a step closer to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and Harry Kane scored a first-half hat-trick as the Three Lions thrashed Albania by five goals at Wembley.
Harry Maguire opened the scoring with header inside 10 minutes before Harry Kane struck either side of Jordan Henderson’s second international goal to put Gareth Southgate’s side in a commanding position heading into the break.
Kane then completed his perfect hat-trick in stunning fashion, as he swivelled to send a scissor kick into the net on the strike of half time, adding to his earlier header and left-foot finish.
England, who did not add to their tally in the second half, will seal an automatic qualification spot for the World Cup if they take at least a point in their final fixture away to San Marino on Monday, in what is a formality against the lowest-ranked European nation.
Here are how the players rated at Wembley:
Jordan Pickford – 7
A comfortable night, but one that still required a big save to rescue England after Myrto Uzuni was inadvertently played through on goal by Kyle Walker . Read the striker’s intentions and stood strong to make the stop.
Kyle Walker – 6
Was spared embarrassment and was bailed out by Pickford after a sloppy and casual backpass that was woefully under-hit. One of few England players to not have an imposing night, but his place in the team, especially in this system, is safe.
John Stones – 7
Didn’t put a foot wrong, but didn’t have much to do in the centre of England’s back three apart from spraying the ball around.
Harry Maguire – 7
Responded to his critics by heading England in front from James’ pin-point delivery. Was almost caught out in one uncomfortable moment on the ball shortly before half time, but generally did well after going through a tough spell in recent weeks. Looked relieved that he didn’t have to be Manchester United’s captain for an evening.
Reece James – 9
Continued his brilliant club form with a dominant performance down England’s right. Registered another assist as he set up Maguire at the back post with an accurate free kick inside 10 minutes. Caught the eye with a number of surging dribbles and wicked deliveries. It’s his place to lose if Southgate sticks with his 3-4-3 system.
Jordan Henderson – 8
A statement performance from the Liverpool captain. Made a bustling run inside his favoured right channel to set up Kane, before the England captain returned the favour by returning a one-two to set up his left-foot finish. Looked confident and assured in possession. A very good night for him overall, considering Declan Rice was out of the team due to illness.
Kalvin Phillips – 6
He pressed and harried well, but his passing varied from crisp to sloppy as he came under pressure from Albania’s high line. Certainly when compared to his midfield partner Henderson, he didn’t stand out – but that is perhaps unfair as they were asked to carry out different roles. Replaced by Jude Bellingham after an hour.
Ben Chilwell – 6
Similarly to Phillips, when compared to his opposite number James on the other flank, it’s hard to get too excited about his performance. He was solid enough, apart from one sloppy backpass midway through the opening half, but he didn’t carry the same level of threat on the England left. Perhaps an opportunity missed given Luke Shaw’s absence.
Raheem Sterling – 8
Looked back to his best after a difficult few weeks of club football and was a constant threat, even if he was not amongst the goals. A fabulous turn and dribble inside four minutes set the tone for a sparkling evening, while his second run – cutting in between two Albania defenders – was even better. Somehow denied a couple of free kicks around the box, as well as a penalty, but only because of a strange refereeing display.
Harry Kane – 10
Even before getting off the mark, the England captain looked sharp. A couple of early involvements with his back to goal was the clue, sending two clever flicks to on-running teammates and bringing others into play. After that, the goals flowed, and the under-fire Tottenham striker grew in confidence with each finish, as if we were watching a striker emerge from a long thaw. The header was simple, his left-foot shot across Thomas Strakosha was reminiscent of his peak form, and the hat-trick strike was special. Removed after the hour, and Antonio Conte will have been licking his lips.
Phil Foden – 7
Busy, constantly picking the ball up or winning it back in dangerous positions. His passing from the right wing inside was sharp and incisive. Should have done better with a shot from outside the box early on after winning back possession. Was the least threatening of England’s front three but still had a good night. Taken off for Grealish during the first raft of changes.
Tammy Abraham, 6 – Like all of the England substitutes, was unfortunate to come on as the game hit a lull. Only had a couple of moments on the ball in attacking areas but couldn’t quite get it under control.
Jude Bellingham, 6 – Played a lovely flick to James that almost set up England’s sixth, following a clever run into the box. Did not produce much else apart from some simple passes in midfield.
Jack Grealish, 6 – Even the arrival of Grealish failed to spark the England fans’ excitement late in the match. Had one opportunity on the edge of the box but shot when the better option was to pass.
Emile Smith Rowe, 6 – Made a positive run with his first England touch that, like many of Sterling’s, did not result in a free kick after being barged to the ground. Probably the stand-out substitute, although none of the five had much of an impact.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6 – Was probably the England substitute feeling as if they had the most to prove following James’ display. The Liverpool right-back did not see much of the ball in attacking areas, however. Saw a late shot blocked.
Strakosha 4, Ismajili 2, Veseli 2, Kumbulla N/A (Dermaku 3) Hysaj 4, Gjasula 4, Bare N/A (Laci 3) Trashi 3, Uzuni 3, Cikalleshi 4, Bajrami 3 (Ramadani 3)
Source: Read Full Article