What a tremendous win for England last night at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium. Gareth Southgate’s men beat Kosovo 5-3 in their second Euro 2020 qualifiers game, topping group A with a maximum of 12 points, 3 points ahead of second place Czech Republic.
England’s 45 minutes of Goals
Kosovo came to play a different game to England with an attacking front, pressing high, which saw Valon Berisha score for the away team in the first seconds of the game This was a real game changer after Michael Keane made an early mistake, passing to the Kosovo midfielder.
England kept their game faces on and Kosovo paid the price despite their early lead after Raheem Sterling levelled up, scoring in the 9th minute. This is where Keane later compensated for his earlier mistake with his assist of Sterling’s goal after he made the first header towards Sterling who nodded it into the back of the net.
There was no stopping England after this as they later went onto striking another 4 goals in 45 minutes of the game, securing a solid 5-1 front after the first half of the game.
The next 20 minutes saw England take the lead. A lovely run from Sterling to set up Tottenham Hotspur Harry Kane with a nutmeg through keeper Arijanet Muric’s legs.
Kosovo defender Mergim Vojvoda became under pressure from Sancho’s cross into the box, as he scored an own goal, taking England 4 goals in front. Moans from the away fans filled St Mary’s as Kosovo’s player went down injured in the build-up but it was a clenching moment.
Another quick England breakout for youngster Jadon Sancho, leaving nothing to chance, he stepped up to the goal to finish the play off, making it a clear 3-1 lead for the Three Lions. An impressive move for the 19-year-old, Marcus Rashford could potentially be looking over his shoulder, as Sancho begins to show the great young talent in the England squad and has the potential to be a regular starter.
But the goals didn’t stop there for Sancho as he bagged England yet another goal in the 46th minute. This was assisted with yet another great set up by Sterling, who played a great game against Kosovo
England’s Second Half Drama
The first half saw action from the get-go but the second half was also just as thrilling as Kosovo bagged 2 more goals. Berisha gets himself on the score sheet yet again after a curl to Jordan Pickford who just doesn’t quite manage to save the shot. Kosovo certainly kept England on their toes for the second half, slowly closing the goal gap.
Harry Maguire gave away a penalty after he pulled down Vedat Muriqi who then took the penalty to settle the 5-3 final score. Pickford unfortunately just couldn’t get control of the ball. England later got their own penalty when Ross Barkley was fouled. Kane took the penalty and was unluckily saved by Arijanet Muric, off his line but no VAR was in sight.
A Win is Still a Win
A handful of times the home side looked vulnerable with few errors throughout the game, something Southgate will need to fix before going forward into England’s next fixture. Coming up against stronger teams in the tournament could make England look weak with the performance put on last night against Kosovo.
It seemed that 8 goals were enough in England’s second fixture as the final whistle blew on a 5-3 scoreline. Sterling hit the post with many chances but Kosovo also had their fair share of chances too.
Southgate later commented that “there were poor errors for the goals. The mistakes were obvious. We have to be better.”
But he was delighted with the front trio. “It was devastating attacking play. Our forwards were a huge threat.”
It was an interesting play from England but if they’re hoping to replicate their Russia World Cup performance in the Euro 2020 tournament, they surely need to step up their game ready to face some of Europe’s best talent.