England ride on Kane hat-trick to bash Bulgaria - GulfToday

England ride on Kane hat-trick to bash Bulgaria


England’s Harry Kane celebrates after scoring against Bulgaria during their Euro 2020 Qualifier Group A match in London on Saturday. Reuters

Harry Kane kept England on course to qualify for Euro 2020 as the skipper’s hat-trick inspired a 4-0 demolition of Bulgaria on Saturday. Kane punished woeful Bulgaria defending to open the scoring in the first half at Wembley.

The Tottenham striker netted again with a penalty soon after the interval before Raheem Sterling struck to put England in complete control.

Kane claimed his second international hat-trick with another penalty, taking him to 25 goals in 40 England appearances.

Gareth Southgate’s side sit top of Group A with three successive victories and 14 goals to their credit.

Their next qualifier is against second placed Kosovo at Southampton on Tuesday.

Such is the weakness of England’s group that the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists already look odds-on to qualify for Euro 2020.

Earlier in a Friday match, Germany suffered a surprising 4-2 home defeat by the Netherlands as World Cup runners-up Croatia hammered Slovakia in qualifying for Euro 2020.

Joachim Loew’s side lost in Hamburg after debutant Donyell Malen’s late effort for the visitors as the home side failed to pick up a point for the first time in the campaign.

Serge Gnabry scored for the Germans after nine minutes before new Barcelona signing Frenkie de Jong responded for the Dutch.

A Jonathan Tah own goal with less than an hour to play gave the travelling Dutch fans something to cheer about before Toni Kroos equalised from the spot.

PSV Eindhoven’s 20-year-old Malen then beat Manuel Neuer with a volley on 79 minutes and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum secured three points in injury time.

“We made some mistakes, which explains the Germans’ opener, but we simply did more to get the win,” Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman said.

In Trnava, Croatia retained top spot in Group G with a 4-0 thumping of Slovakia as Nikola Vlasic, Ivan Perisic, Bruno Petkovic and Dejan Lovren all got on the scoresheet.

“Since I have been coach this is one of the best matches of the Croatian national team and that is why I am very pleased,” boss Zlatko Dalic, who led his side to the 2018 World Cup final, told HRT Sport.

“There was no chance of us losing this game. We missed a lot of chances in the first half an hour, a little bit of nervousness came in.” Also in that pool, Wales survived a scare to beat lowly Azerbaijan 2-1 thanks to Gareth Bale’s 84th-minute header.

Elsewhere, Slovenia saw off previously unbeaten Poland 2-0 in Ljubljana despite a strike-force of Robert Lewandowski and Krzysztof Piatek starting for the visitors.

Belgium maintained their perfect start to qualifying, easing past San Marino 4-0 as Michy Batshuayi netted twice, and Scotland’s hopes of progression took a blow with a 2-1 loss at home to Russia despite John McGinn’s 11th-minute effort.

“On a good day I could have scored four or five goals, but I have not played for a while. The most important thing is that we won,” Batshuayi, who has only featured for six minutes for Chelsea this season, told uefa.com.

On Saturday, the pick of the ties sees World Cup winners France host Albania looking to respond after a defeat by Turkey, who welcome Andorra, in June.

Meanwhile, Scotland captain Andy Robertson labelled his side “scared” after blowing an early lead to lose 2-1 to Russia and realistically end their hopes of automatic qualification for Euro 2020.

John McGinn’s early opener was just reward for Scotland’s bright start, but Artem Dzyuba’s equaliser five minutes before half-time sapped the hosts’ energy and belief.

Russia controlled the second period and could have won by more than a solitary goal when Stephen O’Donnell turned Aleksandr Golovin’s dangerous cross into his own net on the hour mark.

“We’ve only got ourselves to blame,” said Liverpool left-back Robertson.

“We started well, got the goal and then it was as if the goal scared us.

“I’ve never seen anything like that before. That needs to change because if we go into a lead it should be a positive not a negative.”

After opening their campaign with a disastrous 3-0 defeat in Kazakhstan that ultimately cost Alex McLeish his job, Scotland are playing catch up and needed a win to maintain realistic ambitions of finishing in the top two positions of Group I.


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