Harry Kane scored a first-half hat-trick as England confirmed their place at Euro 2020 with an emphatic 7-0 victory over Montenegro at Wembley.
The Three Lions' captain took his overall tally to 31, and moved up to sixth on the list of all-time leading goalscorers, as Gareth Southgate's men easily claimed top spot in Group A.
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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who was making his first start for England in over a year and a half, opened the scoring with a clinical finish on 11 minutes. It was the Liverpool midfielder's first goal for his country since June 2017 and set the tone for a perfect night.
Kane then added two headers as Ben Chilwell snared a trio of assists, before Marcus Rashford made it four.
Kane's hat-trick soon arrived on 37 minutes with a clever finish that left the visitors completely shell-shocked heading into the break.
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The hosts took their foot off the throttle in the second period, but continued to threaten with an Aleksandar Sofranac own goal and substitute Tammy Abraham's first senior strike putting the icing on the cake.
The pre-match build-up had been dominated by the omission of Raheem Sterling following the Manchester City star's bust-up with Liverpool's Joe Gomez, but the rest of the squad did their talking on the pitch, as England's youngest starting XI in 60 years shifted the spotlight to a more positive note to reflect upon in their 1000th senior men's international.
Sterling is now free to return on Sunday, when England will finish off their Group A schedule at Kosovo.
Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson watch from the stands
Image credit: Reuters
No Sterling, no problem. England had won 5-1 in Montenegro back in March, so the victory to secure top place in the group was always a heavy odds-on bet at Wembley. Indeed, whether you agree with Southgate's decision to keep Sterling out of the matchday squad or not, this was the perfect game to do so. The Man City man watched on with heroes of England's past as this young side took centre stage.
Oxlade-Chamberlain capped his return after a long period away due to injury while Kane will steal most of the headlines for his goal-poaching exploits. The reality is that England didn't miss Sterling, who has become very important to their hopes of success in the future. Seeing his teammates put on such a show will have made the forward hungry to make an even more positive impact when he returns and quickly banish recent negative press. Bigger tests lie ahead and there's no doubt Sterling will still be one of the first names on that team sheet when they do.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Harry Kane (England). The Spurs hitman took his haul to 31 goals in just 44 appearances for his country and at the age of 26 will surely have an eye on Wayne Rooney's record tally of 53. Kane was on the pitch for just 57 minutes and will probably wish he'd had more time to notch a few more. He is now leading scorer as an England captain and the first player to score a hat-trick in consecutive appearances for the Three Lions at Wembley.
Harry Kane (England) - Montenegro
Image credit: Getty Images
England: Pickford 7, Alexander-Arnold 8, Chilwell 9, Stones 7, Maguire 7, Winks 7, Oxlade-Chamberlain 8, Mount 7, Rashford 7, Sancho 7, Kane 9. Subs: Maddison 6, Abraham 6, Gomez 6.
Montenegro: Mijatovic 7, Vesovic 6, Sofranac 5, Simic 6, Radunovic 5, Hocko 5, Lagator 5, Vukcevic 5, Jovovic 5, Haksabanovic 5, Beciraj 5. Subs: Raspopovic 6, Jankovic 6, Boljevic 5.
11' - GOAL! England 1-0 Montenegro. Oxlade-Chamberlain makes his mark as he takes down Chilwell's clipped pass and rifles it into the far corner.
18' - GOAL! England 2-0 Montenegro. Kane holds his ground inside the six-yard box to nod home Chilwell's free kick delivery from the left.
24' - GOAL! England 3-0 Montenegro. It's two for Kane and three for England. The captain is given a free run to meet the left-wing corner and nod home his 30th goal for his country.
30' - GOAL! England 4-0 Montenegro. It's already four! Rashford picks up a rebound and smashes it into the corner after Maguire's close-range header had been superbly saved by Mijatovic.
37' - GOAL! England 5-0 Montenegro. It's a hat-trick in just 37 minutes for Kane. The striker's first touch to control TAA's cross is lovely and his reverse finish into the far corner is just too good.
66' - GOAL! England 6-0 Montenegro. It's an unfortunate own goal from Aleksandar Sofranac as he attempts to block Mount's miscued effort.
84' - GOAL! England 7-0 Montenegro. Abraham gets in on the action as Chilwell and Sancho combine down the left to tee up the Chelsea man to slot home from close range.
- This was England’s 1000th match (W569 D241 L190). The Three Lions earned their biggest home win since October 1987 (8-0 vs Turkey).
- The average age of England's starting XI was 23 years and 255 days - their youngest ever in a World Cup or European Championships match (finals and qualifiers included).
- Kane is England's highest scorer in a calendar year since 2006, when Peter Crouch also scored 11 goals. Only George Hilsdon in 1908 and Dixie Dean in 1927 (both 12) have scored more in a calendar year for the Three Lions.
- England scored seven goals in a home match for the first time since October 1987 (8-0 vs Turkey).
- Ben Chilwell is the first England defender to provide three assists in a single match since Glen Johnson against Andorra in June 2009.