Malta 0-4 England: Harry Kane scores twice in victory
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 03/09/17 12:21am
Harry Kane scored twice as a late flurry of goals gave an England a 4-0 win in Malta in World Cup 2018 European Qualifying on Friday night.
Kane, who had not scored in August, marked September 1 with a goal, driving low from eight yards out in the 53rd minute after a frustrating first half for the visitors.
Ryan Bertrand doubled England's lead in the 86th minute with a long-range effort, before sub Danny Welbeck added a neat third in stoppage time.
Malta: Hogg (5), Magri (6), Borg (6), Agius (6), Fenech (6), Schembri (6), Muscat (6), Farrugia (5), Kristensen (6), Zerafa (7), Pisani (7)
Subs: Camilleri (5), Fenech (NA), Mifsud (NA)
England: Hart (6), Walker (6), Cahill (7), Jones (7), Bertrand (8), Livermore (7), Henderson (8), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6), Sterling (5), Alli (7), Kane (9)
Subs: Rashford (8), Vardy (7), Welbeck (7)
Man of the match: Harry Kane
Kane then netted his second and England's fourth a minute later, and the result means England stay top of Group F with three games remaining, sitting two points clear of second-placed Slovakia after their late 1-0 win over Slovenia.
In a goalless first half, England had several opportunities to take the lead, the best falling to Raheem Sterling in the first minute after being found by Kane, but the Man City man decided to stall and turn inside the box when one-on-one, before being tackled.
Kane then forced Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg into a fine save with a fierce header from Dele Alli's deflected cross, while Alli himself then blasted a half volley over the bar from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cut back.
Jordan Henderson started as England captain for the third time, while Joe Hart, Phil Jones and Jake Livermore also started as Gareth Southgate fielded a 4-2-3-1, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right of the three.
Tottenham striker Kane broke the deadlock eight minutes after the break from eight yards after some unselfish play from club team-mate Alli.
Southampton left-back Bertrand looked almost embarrassed to have scored England's second, seeing his long-range effort take a slight deflection before finding the bottom corner when goalkeeper Hogg should have got down quicker.
Sub Welbeck made it 3-0 in the 91st minute, running onto Kane's fine through ball to lift the ball over Hogg before the ball bounced over the line.
Marcus Rashford, who impressed after coming on for Sterling at half-time, then found Kane, who struck on the half-volley from close range after moving into space in the box.
- England earned their first away victory since Gareth Southgate took charge, having failed to win any of their previous four under him (D2 L2).
- England have netted at least two goals in seven of their nine games under the 46-year-old.
- Kane has now scored five goals in his last three appearances for England, with all five coming away from home.
- Danny Welbeck has scored seven goals in his last eight games for England, however, this was his first since March 2015 (v Lithuania).
- Dele Alli has been involved in just two goals in his last 10 international appearances, however, both have come against Malta (one goal, one assist)
The manager - Gareth Southgate
"We've dominated the game. Of course you'd like your goals earlier, and we had a couple of really good early chances, but actually that was a rally good test for us.
"There was a bit of stick towards us [from fans], we had to stay calm, make sure that we stuck to the plan. And if you keep the ball as much as we did and make the opposition work as much as we did, then in the end they tire, and your goals come late, also with a good impact from the bench."
Man of the match - Harry Kane
Alan Smith: "Forget about his goals and his assist tonight, his all-round play makes him so important to the England team. He has touch and awareness which is first class and he is just one of the best centre-forwards in the world now."
Next up in Group F, England host Slovakia on Monday at Wembley, while Malta go to Hampden Park to face Scotland, live on Sky Sports Football.
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