England rounded out their qualifying campaign for the 2020 European Championship with a slightly flattering 4-0 victory over Kosovo in Pristina.
The visitors were already assured of qualification and Kosovo are guaranteed another chance in the play-offs, so the match lacked the intensity of the wild 5-3 victory England picked up in the reverse fixture in Southampton in September.
Harry Winks put England in front in the first half, before a flurry of goals in the last eleven minutes from Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount added a layer of the gloss on the victory.
England's forward Harry Kane (top) celebrates after scoring a goal next to Kosovo's goalkeeper Arijanet Muric during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying Group A football match at the Fadil Vokrri stadium in Prishtina on November 17, 2019
Image credit: Eurosport
The 37 goals Gareth Southgate’s team have scored in qualifying are the most any England have achieved in such a campaign, while Kane became the first England player to score in every fixture in a set of qualifiers. England will find out their opponents for the group stages at the finals draw in Bucharest on 30 November, where Kosovo will hope to join them after their potential route via the play-offs is finalised.
Can England find the right balance in midfield? Although England have romped through their qualifying section, there are still problems for Southgate to solve within his team. Mount and Winks both registered their first England goals tonight, but throughout the game England’s combinations in their three-man midfield didn’t quite click in the way Southgate might have hoped. Jordan Henderson and James Maddison will be in contention for starting places, while Eric Dier, Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard all have the rest of the 2019-20 season to try and force their way back in. Can Southgate find the right blend from those options to give his team the best chance next summer?
MAN OF THE MATCH – Raheem Sterling (England)
He’s had a bit of a week, Sterling. After being dropped for England’s 1000th international against Montenegro on Thursday he returned to the side with a point to prove tonight. He had a quiet first half but burst into life in the second, showing his class with two energetic bursts and assists for England’s second and third goals.
Marcus Rashford of England scoring his team's third goal with Raheem Sterling during the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier between Kosovo and England at the Pristina City Stadium on November 17, 2019 in Pristina, Kosovo.
Image credit: Getty Images
Kosovo (4-3-3): Muric 6; Vojvoda 6, Rrahmani 6, Aliti 6, Kololli 5; Celina 6, Dresevic 5, Berisha 6; Hadergjonaj 7, Nuhiu 6, Rashica 6
SUBS: Halimi 7, Rashani 6, Zhegrova 6
England (4-3-3): Pope 6; Alexander-Arnold 6, Chilwell 6, Maguire 6, Mings 5; Rice 6, Winks 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6; Sterling 8, Kane 7, Hudson-Odoi 6
SUBS: Tomori 6, Mount 7, Rashford 7
7’ CHANCE! Berisha gets into some space on the left, and whips a cross into the area. Nuhui gets up to head the ball from six yards out but can't get any power on it, and the ball loops into the hands of Pope.
15’ CHANCE! Chilwell opens his legs down the left, getting all the way to the area and cutting it back for Kane. The England captain lays it off to Sterling, who takes a touch and shoots from the edge of the area. Muric saves it well and Kosovo clear the ball for a corner.
32’ GOAL! England 1 (Winks 32) Kosovo 0 England take the lead! It was so simple. Oxlade-Chamberlain gets between the lines of Kosovo's defence and midfield before reversing a pass to Winks near the area. Winks wrong-foots the Kosovo defence by bursting straight into the area, and he's one-on-one with Murica. He calmly sits the goalkeeper down before tucking his shot into the corner.
76’ CHANCE! Kosovo break quickly and suddenly Rashica latches on to a pass from Halimi. Pope slips as he comes out but Rice gets across to snuff out the danger and put it out for a corner.
79’ GOAL! England 2 (Kane 79) Kosovo 0 That could be the game! Sterling gets the ball on the right, jinks past Rashica and drills a low cross into the area. Aliti gets a toe on it, the ball loops to the back post and Kane is there to half-volley the ball into the net.
83’ GOAL! England 3 (Rashford 83) Kosovo 0 All of a sudden England are out of sight. Sterling gets the ball near the centre-circle and drives hard at the Kosovo defence. He lays it off to Rashford just inside the area on the left, who sweeps the ball imperiously into the bottom corner.
90+1’ GOAL! England 4 (Mount 90+1) Kosovo 0 Another one! Dresevic slips on the edge of the Kosovo area, which gifts the ball to Kane. He finds Mount in acres of space in the area, who calmly slots the ball into the bottom corner.
- England have scored 38 goals in just ten matches in 2019, a tally only bettered in 1908 (39 in 7 games) and equalled in 1966 (achieved in 17 games).
- Kosovo are assured of a chance to qualify for Euro 2020 via the play-offs, after playing just 35 official internationals since being awarded international status by UEFA and FIFA in 2016.