England 4-0 Bulgaria: Harry Kane hat-trick maintains perfect start
Raheem Sterling also on target as Three Lions seal third win from three on the road to Euro 2020
Last Updated: 08/09/19 7:06am
Harry Kane scored a hat-trick as England maintained their perfect start to Euro 2020 qualification with a 4-0 victory over Bulgaria at Wembley.
The England captain broke the deadlock midway through the first half, slotting home from six yards after Bulgaria's insistence to play out from the back was punished by Raheem Sterling.
Group A table
After a subdued first-half display, England hit full stride in the second period. Kane doubled his tally from the penalty spot within four minutes of the restart, after Marcus Rashford was brought down in the box, and then returned the favour to Sterling, squaring the ball for the Manchester City forward to add England's third on 55 minutes.
England: Pickford (7), Trippier (7), Keane (7), Maguire (7), Rose (7), Rice (8), Henderson (6), Barkley (8), Sterling (9), Rashford (7), Kane (9)
Subs: Mount (6), Sancho (6), Oxlade-Chamberlain (6)
Man of the match: Harry Kane
Kane dusted himself down after being bundled to ground in the area on 73 minutes and completed his hat-trick with another emphatic penalty that restored Gareth Southgate's side to the top of Group A.
Bulgaria set up in a 5-4-1 and looked to shut up shop, and though they did have the first half chance of the game as Jordan Pickford denied Marcelinho's deflected effort, England finally broke them down on 24 minutes.
Trying to play out in a triangle with his defenders from a goal kick, Plamen Iliev's loose pass fell straight to Sterling, who got to the byline and turned the ball back for Kane to slot home from six yards.
Bulgaria continued to retreat despite the goal, and though England eventually turned it on after the break, it came after a fine chance for a leveller. After playing a fine one-two, Wanderson's half volley from an angle was saved well by Pickford, and moments later England had daylight.
England opted for an experienced XI as Trippier started at right-back, while Rice, Henderson and Barkley were in a midfield diamond with Sterling behind Kane and Rashford.
Mount, Maddison and Mings started on the bench.
Up the other end, Nikolay Bodurov left a leg on Rashford, who showed fine agility to turn in the box, allowing Kane to score from the spot for his and England's second.
Kane then turned provider for Sterling, squaring from the left for the City man to tuck home under the crossbar for his seventh in as many games for England.
With England controlling the match, Southgate introduced fresh blood. Mason Mount came on with 25 minutes remaining, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain also made his first England appearance in 18 months.
Kane then completed his hat-trick, winning a penalty thanks to sub Kristian Dimitrov's sloppy foul in the box, and finding the top left corner with fine strike from 12 yards.
Rashford was denied a deserved goal late on by Iliev from close range, and it ended 4-0 as England kept perfect. Southgate, picking a trusted XI, got a professional performance in return.
Southgate: Kane the perfect example
Manager Gareth Southgate described Harry Kane as an "incredible example" to England's young players after his hat-trick.
"We stood and watched him take penalties for about 20 minutes yesterday and when you watch the process that he goes through, he just gives himself every chance of succeeding by that deliberate practice," said Southgate.
"For a youngster to be able to watch what he does, being able study him and see his professionalism and the way he works at his game, it's an incredible example."
Kane: Hard work paying off
Asked how it felt to overtake Geoff Hurst in the scoring charts with 25 goals, Kane said: "Whenever stuff like that happens it's always a proud moment for me and it shows the hard work that I'm putting in is paying off.
"Hopefully I can keep scoring goals for many years to come. Whenever I put an England shirt on it's always to try and score and help the team and thankfully today it went well for me.
"When I'm playing with players like Raz (Raheem Sterling) and (Marcus) Rashford, they are going to create so many chances, they are so good in one-v-ones, they are going to win penalties, so I've got to make sure I'm ready for the opportunities that come my way."
Mount: I loved every minute
Chelsea midfielder Mason Mount made his debut at Wembley, coming on with 25 minutes to go, and admits he was so excited it's all a blur to him now...
"It's a dream to make your England debut, you wait a long time for this moment. You dream of this happening, it's a slim chance that it happens, but it's obviously such a proud moment for me and my family. It happened so quickly, it's like a blur now!
"I wasn't that nervous. I was more excited to get on the pitch. I loved every minute of it. It's been a crazy couple of months, it's happened so quickly to this moment, but I've loved every moment. I'm enjoying learning every day, learning so much from the seniors."
- England are unbeaten in their 11 matches against Bulgaria (W7 D4 L0) - against no nation have they faced more times without ever losing (11 - level with Finland & Turkey).
- England have avoided defeat in each of their last 42 European/World Cup qualifying matches (W33 D9 L0), since losing 0-1 to Ukraine in October 2009.
- Harry Kane became the first player to score 25+ goals in his first 40 appearances for the England men's team since Gary Lineker (27 goals). It was his 13th hat-trick for club and country (11 for Spurs, 2 for England).
England now face Kosovo at St Mary's in Southampton on Tuesday evening at 7.45pm in Group A, while Bulgaria play the Republic of Ireland at the same time in a friendly.