England made it two wins from two at the start of their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign as goals from Harry Kane and Mason Mount earned them a 2-0 victory over Albania in Group I.
After a slow start on a difficult pitch, Kane got on the end of a pinpoint Luke Shaw cross to head England into the lead in the 39th minute – the Tottenham striker’s first international goal since November 2019.
Chances remained at a premium in the second half, but a fourth international goal from Mount in the 63rd minute put the game to bed.
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The result means England stretch their unbeaten World Cup qualification run to 23, having won their last six in a row, and have now lost two of 30 on the road.
Gareth Southgate made six changes from the side who thrashed San Marino in their opening qualifier on Thursday, with Shaw back in the England side for the first time since picking up a nasty-looking injury against Spain in a September 2018 Nations League encounter.
And, after the hosts wasted a glorious early chance to take a surprise lead, the resurgent Shaw was instrumental in dragging England out of a rut on a very slow pitch, as his cross was perfect for Kane to glance England in front.
Moments after Phil Foden has been denied by a combination of the post and goalkeeper, Kane turned provider for Mount, as the Chelsea midfielder followed up an assist against San Marino on Thursday with a fine, lofted finish.
After that it remained a procession, as England look in good shape ahead of their meeting with Poland on Wednesday.
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TALKING POINT – Shaw proves his worth
The resurgence of Luke Shaw this season has been something of a revelation, with his fantastic form for Manchester United rewarded by a first England call up in two-and-a-half years.
And in one superb cross, we saw why. Shaw has improved in all areas this season, but his delivery for United has been markedly better than in any season since his arrival at Old Trafford.
The cross for Kane, to unlock a dogged Albania was perfect, and was just what England needed at a difficult moment. He looks here to stay in the England fold, and nobody deserves it more.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Harry Kane
A goal and an assist for the returning skipper. His header was expertly taken, while he had the awareness to pick out Mount for the clinching goal
Albania: Berisha 7, Hysaj 6, Ismajli 5, Djimsiti 6, Veseli 6, Laci 6, Bare 5, Memolla 6, Uzuni 4, Cikalleshi 4, Broja 6. Subs: Lenjani 6, Gjasula 6, Ramadani N/A.
England: Pope 6, Walker 7, Stones 6, Maguire 6, Shaw 7, Rice 7, Phillips 7, Foden 7, Mount 6, Sterling 7, Kane 7…. Subs: Lingard N/A, Ward-Prowse 6
14’ – CHANCE! Big chance for the hosts! England give the ball away cheaply, Albania break, they have two on one, Myrto Uzuni is played in, but he blazes over. His big moment!
38’ – GOOOOOOOAAAALLLL!!! Albania 0-1 England. That is more like it! Kane gives England the lead. Superb cross from Luke Shaw on his return to the side, Kane gets across his man and heads home. That is his first England goal for 500 days! Just what England needed.
53’ – POST! Better from England. Sterling does well to wait for the right pass, picks out Manchester City team-mate Foden, who shoots for goal, but Albania goalkeeper Etrit Berisha gets down really well to tip the low strike onto the post and the ball rolls away from danger.
63’ – GGGGOOOOAAALLLL!!! Albania 0-2 England. Game over as Mount makes it two. Sterling makes the interception, he feeds Kane, who in turn passes across for Mount, the Chelsea forward is clean through, opens his body up and slots home with ease.
- England have now won each of their last six World Cup qualifying matches, their best run since 10 straight wins between 2005 and 2009.
- Albania have lost four of their last five World Cup qualifiers on home soil (W1), the same number as defeats as in their 11 matches beforehand (W4 D3).
- Four different Manchester City players started against Albania (Kyle Walker, Phil Foden, John Stones, Raheem Sterling), the most number of players from a single side to start for England since June 2019, when four Spurs players did so against Switzerland (Kane, Alli, Dier, Rose).
- Harry Kane has now scored at 17 different stadiums while playing for England; with only Michael Owen (25) and Wayne Rooney (27) doing so in more different venues.
- Under Gareth Southgate, Harry Kane (28) has scored at least 16 more goals for England than any other player (Sterling, 12), all-the-while his opener being his first for the Three Lions in 497 days (six apps without a goal).
- In the 20 international caps Harry Kane has earned in away matches for England, he has had a direct hand in 22 goals, netting 13 times and delivering nine assists.
- Nick Pope has managed to keep a clean sheet in each of his six England appearances, the first Three Lions goalkeeper not to concede in any of their first six caps
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26/03/2021 AT 11:59