England are all but guaranteed a spot in the 2022 World Cup, as Harry Kane’s hat-trick saw them defeat Albania 4-1. The Three Lions are on 10 points, ahead of second place Croatia who have three games left to play. Regardless of whether England win their remaining fixtures or not, they will still top Group G at least on goal difference.;
England all but secured the 2022 World Cup as Harry Kane’s hat-trick helped them to a 3-0 victory over Albania. The Three Lions will now progress to the final group stage of qualifying for next year’s tournament in Qatar.
Only a point versus San Marino remains for the Three Lions. (Photos: PA/Reuters)
England are very certain to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar following a merciless showing against Albania on Friday night at Wembley, in which they scored five goals in the first half.
The Three Lions had appeared sluggish and cautious in previous matches, but just needed a point against Albania to secure a win against San Marino, the world’s lowest-ranked team, next week, and a place in next year’s tournament.
But they were determined to make a statement rather than merely go over the line, putting the visitors to the sword as Harry Kane scored his fourth England hat-trick – and first for his nation in two years – en way to a 5-0 triumph.
On Friday, Harry Maguire scored the game’s first goal at Wembley Stadium (Picture: Getty)
The game got off to a feisty start, with Albania launching themselves into challenges, with one especially ferocious attack on Kane resulting in a free-kick for Reece James.
The Chelsea defender continued his strong club form by whipping in a superb cross for Harry Maguire to force a header into the back of the goal and give the home side an early lead, with the Manchester United captain slamming his detractors with his celebration.
Albania needed to win to keep their dreams of finishing second alive, and they left plenty of room for England to take advantage of, with Phil Foden gliding past a slew of white shirts before blasting over the bar.
With an under-hit back-pass, Kyle Walker almost handed Albania an equaliser, but Jordan Pickford saved his blushes with a key stop, and England duly punished Albania for their indiscipline.
More: National Team of England
Jordan Henderson, who sped to the byline and lofted a cross into the box for Kane, who headed into the back of the goal from close range, continued James’ charging run.
Henderson played a brilliant one-two with Kane before turning a defender inside out and sliding the ball into the bottom corner just before the half-hour mark as England gained complete control of the contest.
Kane then scored his second of the evening, racing in behind the defenders to pick up a ball from Raheem Sterling before switching to his left foot and slamming a tremendous effort past Thomas Strakosha from a tight angle.
Kane was back to his best in front of goal. (Photo courtesy of Getty)
The Tottenham striker missed many opportunities to score a hat-trick in the first half, volleying a superb opportunity wide of the far post, but he made no mistake from a corner kick on the stroke of half-time, acrobatically volleying the ball in due to a little deflection to complete the hat-trick.
England were obviously more careful in the second half, seeing out the remainder of the encounter with minimal fuss, making a slew of replacements along the way, including Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe, who made his debut.
In other group action, Poland defeated Andorra 4-1 to stay three points behind England, but a point against San Marino on Monday night – who have lost all nine matches and surrendered 35 goals – would be enough for Gareth Southgate’s side to qualify.
MORE: Gareth Southgate has been offered a lucrative new England contract, but the FA fears he will turn it down.
MORE: Emile Smith (Arsenal) Gareth Southgate believes Rowe has shown his ‘quality’ in England training.
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