Silencing all his doubters, Harry Kane capped off a perfect hattrick with a right-footed scissor kick to lead England to a 5-0 thumping of Albania on Friday that all but secured England’s place at the FIFA World Cup 2022.
Now, all ll that’s required of the England side to be sure of going to Qatar next November is just a draw in the final qualifier on Monday away against San Marino — the world’s lowest-ranked team.
Meanwhile, Kane, 28, lit up the Wembley Stadium by taking his England tally to 44 goals, nine from catching Wayne Rooney’s national record. The Tottenham striker, who has struggled for his club this season, without a goal in five games, is now the record scorer in competitive matches for England, with 39 goals overtaking the retired Rooney.
It took only nine minutes for Gareth Southgate’s team to grab the lead when Harry Maguire headed home a Reece James free-kick. In an apparent gesture to detractors, the Manchester United defender celebrated by cupping his ears to the fans as he slid on the grass.
Kane’s first goal, a header, increased the lead in the 18th minute. England stormed down the left flank, spearheaded by James, before a combination of Phil Foden and Jordan Henderson set up Kane with a cross.
After an assist from Kane, Henderson scored his first England goal at Wembley, skipping past two players and shooting into the net.
Kane’s second came in the 33rd minute when Raheem Sterling slipped a well-knitted pass into his path before the ball was hoisted beyond goalkeeper Thomas Strakosha.
And it was Foden’s corner that Kane met with a scissor kick in first-half stoppage time to seal the game and allow England to relax after the interval.
This was an entertaining way for the English to sign off from Wembley in 2021, four months after they reached a first European Championship final here and lost to Italy.
Talking about the performance on the night, Kane said, “Whenever I get chances I feel I’m going to score and there was quite a few out there.”
“I could have had six on another night.”
With inputs from the Associated Press