England booked their place at the UEFA 2020 European Championship on Thursday, as they surged to a 7-0 win against a hapless Moldova.
In what was the Three Lions’ 1,000th official game, the team put on a show, with Harry Kane grabbing a hat-trick before half time. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring on his return to the team, with Marcus Rashford grabbing the other goal, leaving the home side five goals ahead at the interval.
The home side took their foot off the gas in the second period, with Montenegro eventually adding to their own woes with an own goal from Aleksandar Sofranac. With the clock ticking down, Tammy Abraham was able to get his first England goal too.
Only a point was needed for England to book their place in next summer’s showpiece event.
The Three Lions roared into action in the eighth minute, with Oxlade-Chamberlain on target for his country for the first time in more than two years
Any early signs of Montenegrin resistance were broken after that, with the England players steaming forward at every opportunity.
From set pieces, Gareth Southgate’s team were dangerous too. Ben Chilwell, who set up the first goal of the night, showed his proficiency in a dead-ball situation, as his crosses found the head of Kane on two occasions, who thudded his efforts home.
After Montenegro failed to clear their lines again, the situation got worse for them, as Rashford arrowed a shot home to make it four for England after just half an hour.
Before the break, there was even the chance for Kane to complete his hat-trick, as the Tottenham Hotspur star took Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross under control before netting a tidy finish
After an onslaught in the first half, the intensity from England clearly dwindled in the second, with Kane and Oxlade-Chamberlain taken off.
The visitors did eventually crumble again though and conceded their sixth goal of the night in comical fashion, with Sofranac somehow turning the ball into his own goal from Jadon Sancho’s centre
Southgate also took the opportunity to bring Joe Gomez into the game. The Liverpool defender was involved in a skirmish with Raheem Sterling on Monday, which led to the Manchester City forward being left out of the squad for this encounter.
The icing on the cake came from Abraham, as the Chelsea man made it 7-0 after turning home another pinpoint cross from Sancho at the near post.
While the opposition was mediocre on Thursday, strong performances from Rashford and Sancho means Sterling may not be guaranteed a starting berth on Sunday. For Southgate, having such depth and variety in attack is encouraging ahead of the main event next summer .