England 4 Bulgaria 0. Kane Has Put the Lions on Brinks of The Euro 2020

What an impressive shot from Kane Credit: Jamie McPhilimey – The Sun

The England captain scored a hat-trick and made the other as the 3 Lions romped to another comfortable win in the stroll towards monetary unit 2020 qualification.

Kane converted a first-half penalty after being teed up for the first by Raheem Sterling and returned the compliment early in the second half to help the Manchester City forward maintain his scoring streak for club and country.

Kane Sterling celebrating their glorious goal Credit: Jamie McPhilimey – The Sun

The Tottenham striker earned and converted a second spot-kick to record his second treble for his country and take the team’s tally to 14 in 3 groups matches.

It was enough to keep a packed house at Wembley happy but discovered little about England’s prospects of lifting the European Championship trophy at the same venue next summer. Better teams than Bulgaria will make more of the 3 clear chances they created. And it took a ludicrous error by Ludogorets goalkeeper Plamen Iliev to set England on their way.

The visitors are a sad shadow of the facet featuring current manager Krasimir Balakov that came fourth at the World Cup 25 years ago. In 1994 Kosovo was suffering from growing tension which might ultimately lead to war and, finally, independence.

The former Yugoslav republic, who visit St Mary’s on Tuesday, now appears to be the only credible threat to a 100 per cent qualification record for Gareth Southgate’s team After all the excitement about some of the young players in the squad, Southgate’s team selection felt like safety first. For a game against a once-strong nation now struggling to punch its weight, he went for pretty much the most experienced option in each position in his 4-3-3 formation.

As early as the third minute, the recalled Kieran Trippier was England’s most advanced player as Bulgaria set out their stall in a 5-4-1 formation.

Yet the primary chance soon fell to the visitors. Wanderson, the Brazil-born winger who gained Bulgarian citizenship in 2017, had the opportunity to mark his debut in style but hit a tame shot straight at Jordan Pickford.

Kane score a wonderful goal Credit: Jamie McPhilimey – The Sun

But the game presently became confined to the Bulgarian 0.5 and England were having hassle breaking the 2 red lines ahead of Iliev’s goal.

And when they did manage it, with Raheem Sterling bursting down the right, Kane failed to time his run and was rightly ruled offside after tucking the ball into the net.

Ross Barkley was doing his best to probe and find pockets of space, but he lacks the explosiveness of a Paul Gascoigne and the vision of a Glenn Hoddle. Mind you, so does just about everyone.

But the longer the game went on, the more you hoped that James Maddison would be given the chance to show that he might be the answer to England’s long search for a midfield creator.

A question for another day, perhaps.

There was a game to be won. Or, in Bulgaria’s case, lost. Iliev needless howler meant 1 / 4 of a game of resistance was all for nothing. Iliev’s pass towards Vasil Bozhikov was picked off inside the penalty space by Sterling, who calmly advanced to the byline and teed up Kane to apply the most routine of finishes.

But it should have been 1-1 just past the 0.5 hours. Bulgaria broke quickly and Strahil Popov’s cross found Galin Ivanov unmarked within the penalty area. On the touchline, visiting boss Balakov tensed his neck muscles and thrust his head forward, like a proud dad living every moment of his child’s Sunday morning match.

What a nice pass across from Kane to his team mate Credit: Jamie McPhilimey – The Sun

But Ivanov’s header was less convincing than his manager’s and Pickford saved easily when anything either side of him would have levelled the score.

Trippier swung in a smart cross towards the tip of the half but Kane’s header went straight into Iliev’s grateful gloves and it was as shut as England came to extending their lead.

DISPATCHED

The game was decided in the 48th minute. Wanderson again might have done better after a one-two with fellow Brazilian Marcelinho but Pickford saved and England went down the other end to receive another gift.

This time it was Nikolay Bodurov in a generous mood, fouling Marcus Rashford for a penalty that Kane dispatched emphatically.

More of an equivalent on Tuesday and England will be as good as qualified. For Southgate’s side, the real heavy lifting is a few months away.

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