England scored 13 goals without reply in their previous two games but laboured at times before pulling clear in a 4-0 win over Kosovo
Harry Winks and Mason Mount scored their first senior international goals as England rounded off Euro 2020 qualifying with a 4-0 victory in Kosovo, where Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford were also among the goals.
Tottenham’s Winks provided the finish to a rare moment of first-half quality, although his combination with Declan Rice and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield did not always deliver the cohesion England need in their engine room.
Kane added a second 11 minutes from time and substitute Rashford swept home four minutes later.
Mount’s late strike added gloss to the scoreline but Bernard Challandes’ impressive Kosovo side can still reach the European Championship via a play-off place secured by virtue of their Nations League performance.
After matching England for long spells at Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri they will be confident of making it count.
— England (@England) November 17, 2019
Nick Pope, making his first start for the Three Lions, saved Atdhe Nuhiu’s looping header as Kosovo probed in the opening 10 minutes and England failed to threaten until Raheem Sterling – back in the side following the enforced absence brought on by his clash with Joe Gomez – had a low drive was turned around the post by Aro Muric.
Callum Hudson-Odoi tested Muric with a similar effort before Oxlade-Chamberlain’s incisive pass sent Winks clean through and the Tottenham midfielder confidently tucked the ball into the bottom corner from eight yards.
Amir Rrahmani flashed a header past the post early in the second half as Kosovo applied steady pressure on the England defence, and when Kane hit the post following Sterling’s cut-back it was on the counter-attack.
As the hosts tired during the closing stages, Fidan Aliti sent Sterling’s cross looping into the path of Kane, who swept home an easy finish at close range.
Sterling’s quality shone through again when he teed up Rashford just inside the box for a first-time shot into the far corner.
Ibrahim Dresevic gifted Kane possession on the edge of the box in stoppage time and he fed Mount, who drilled home with aplomb.
What does it mean? A proud night for Kosovo
Restricting a team of England’s stature to relatively few opportunities will only add to the pride Kosovo will already feel as they prepare for the play-offs. The Three Lions might have won here but for long stages it was hardly the campaign-closing performance Gareth Southgate would have hoped for.
— England (@England) November 17, 2019
Celina given the run of midfield
England were sloppy, with misplaced passes and thoughtless clearances affording Kosovo more of the ball than they expected, and Swansea City’s Bersant Celina dropped deep and utilised possession well.
Liverpool influence fails to tell
Trent Alexander-Arnold is among the most creative players in the Premier League, but in England’s back four he showed little desire to attack and Benjamin Kololli’s pace caused problems down his flank.
Key Opta facts
– England have won their past three matches by an aggregate score of 17-0, scoring 17 goals across three matches for the first time since May 1964.
– Kane equalled the record for goals scored in a calendar year for the England national team, matching George Hilsdon and Dixie Dean’s marks of 12 in 1908 and 1927 respectively.
– Only in 1908 (39 goals) have England scored more goals in a calendar year than the 38 they scored in 2019.
– England have averaged 3.8 goals per game in 2019 (38 in 10 games), their best goals-per-game ratio in a calendar year since 1946, when they scored 19 in four games (4.8 per game).
– Nine of the 16 goals Kosovo have conceded during Euro 2020 qualifying were against England.
6 – Harry Kane has scored in each of his last six England appearances – post-war, this is only the second time a player has achieved this feat, with Kane also doing it between October 2017 and July 2018. Relentless. pic.twitter.com/0HwsDU8M3P
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 17, 2019
England will play host to three Group D matches at Euro 2020 and Southgate’s selections during the build-up to the tournament will be heavily scrutinised. Kosovo, meanwhile, turn their attentions towards a winnable play-off section in March.