England moved to within one point of qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar by dismantling Albania 5-0 at Wembley on Friday night.
Within 10 minutes of kick-off, Gareth Southgate’s side had broken the deadlock as Harry Maguire headed home a Reece James free-kick with ease – his celebration drawing the ire of Roy Keane in the ITV studio. Just shy of 10 minutes later, Harry Kane doubled the Three Lions’ lead by netting his own header, courtesy of a chipped assist from Jordan Henderson, who soon made it 3-0 with a tidy close-range finish. Kane would round out a perfect hat-trick before the half-time whistle sounded, first blasting a powerful strike across goal from a tight angle, then scoring a deflected bicycle kick from a corner on the cusp of the break.
England could not find the net again once the action resumed at Wembley, but Southgate took the opportunity to get Jack Grealish, Tammy Abraham, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jude Bellingham on the pitch from the bench, as well as debuting Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe. The win kept Southgate’s team atop Group I of the European qualifying pools, their 23 points one fewer than what is required to ensure England a place at next winter’s world championship in Qatar.
Follow all the fallout and analysis from Wembley:
Harry Kane hits a hat-trick as England thrash Albania to take huge step toward 2022 World Cup
Just one point is now required to reach the 2022 World Cup, after a number of points were made on the pitch.
England offered their most convincing performance of a fine year to close it out, with something closer to Gareth Southgate’s ideal side seeing out a 5-0 win over a ragged Albania. All of the scoring came in a hugely assertive first-half performance, with the majority of it done by Harry Kane.
The captain has had an imperfect start to the season, but here scored a perfect hat-trick - head, left foot, right foot.
England 5-0 Albania: All five in the first half as Harry Kane nets a treble alongside efforts from Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson
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Reaction from Harry Kane
The England captain spoke to ITV after the match and spoke about his hat-trick, England’s performance and Gareth Southgate’s potential contract extension. He said:
Hat-trick moves Harry Kane closer to England scoring record
The Tottenham striker has scored two goals every three games across his 66 caps as he continues to chase Wayne Rooney’s all-time record of 53 for the men’s national team.
The Tottenham striker joins Jimmy Greaves in fourth place on the Three Lions’ list.
England vs Albania player ratings: Hat-trick hero Harry Kane back on form in big World Cup qualifying win
After a fantastic performance against Albania, England 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 on an exceptional night at Wembley:
England 5-0 Albania: Harry Kane and Harry Maguire responded to criticism of their recent club form by contributing to a big win in World Cup qualifying
England vs Albania result: Five things we learned as Three Lions stars return to form
England are just one step from reaching the World Cup finals at Qatar 2022 after demolishing Albania 5-0 at Wembley on Friday night.
Jordan Henderson’s quick feet and neat finish made it three before the half-hour mark, before Kane rattled in two more before the break: a smart finish after beating a defender in the channel and then an acrobatic and slightly deflected strike off a corner.
Here’s what we learned from England’s victory over Albania:
England 5-0 Albania: A ruthless first-half showing decided the destination of the points as Harry Kane hit a hat-trick
England 5 - 0 Albania
England have scored 41 goals in 2021, their most ever in a calendar year, overtaking their previous most of 39 in 1908. They stand on the verge of qualifying for the World Cup for demolishing Albania at Wembley tonight.
Full-time: England 5 - 0 Albania
90+2 mins: The damage was all done in the first half. Goals for Harry Maguire and Jordan Henderson kicked England into gear but it was a hat-trick from the England captain, Harry Kane, that will take the headlines.
A potentially tricky affair turned out to be a walk in the park for Gareth Southgate’s men who now need just one point from their match against San Marino on Monday night to qualify for the World Cup next year.
England 5 - 0 Albania
89 mins: Bellingham dribbles into the penalty area and sets Alexander-Arnold up for a shot from just inside the box, over to the right side. He drills a low effort first time but it gets blocked and the ball is cleared.
Two added minutes to play at Wembley.
England 5 - 0 Albania
86 mins: The corner comes to nothing for England who seem content enough to run down the clock and collect their three points. Albania have had five shots this evening with four on target. Most have come from outside the area and Pickford has been up to the task of keeping them out. He’ll want to notch up another clean sheet to top off this performance from England.
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