Harry Kane on target as England cruise to win over Malta
Malta 0 - 4 England

Harry Kane on target as England cruise to win over Malta

02/09/2017

England are on the brink of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup after a 4-0 win in Malta on Friday night.

Harry Kane's second half goal helped Gareth Southgate's men on their way to a crucial win in Group F but it was a frustrating display from the Three Lions.

Kane's 53rd minute effort -- after once again failing to score in the month of August -- ended his wait for a goal and spared England embarrassment in their bid to reach the World Cup next summer. It was a frustrating night up to that point but a late flurry of goals boosted Southgate on an otherwise forgettable night.

Ryan Bertrand made it 2-0 five minutes from time with a deflected, long range drive that gave the visitors a rather flattering 2-0 scoreline. Danny Welbeck and Kane added further goals late on to add gloss to the scoreline.

England, playing in their first match since Wayne Rooney announced his international retirement, started with Joe Hart in goal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield, following his move to Liverpool from Arsenal on transfer deadline day.

While Hart -- whose place in the XI came under question after conceding 10 in three games on loan at West Ham at the start of the season -- was untroubled, England laboured against a side ranked 190 in the world.

Jordan Henderson, captain for the night following Rooney's retirement, found Raheem Sterling inside the first minute but the Manchester City winger was blocked by Malta goalkeeper Matthew Hogg. Kane was next to threaten but the Tottenham striker's header was well parried away by Hogg.

Oxlade-Chamberlain, starting on the wing, then found Henderson whose pass could not be converted by Dele Alli from close range. And in a frustrating first half of few chances for the visitors, Phil Jones thought he had beaten Hogg but his header was ruled out for a foul inside the area.

England fans vented their frustration as the half time whistle blew and it almost got worse five minutes after the break when Andre Schembri's shot whistled past the post.

Southgate, who sent on Marcus Rashford in place of Raheem Sterling for the second half, looked on exasperated but Kane's opener ended his frustration.

Alli's neat footwork inside the area made space and Kane received the ball on the left before planting the ball past the despairing Hogg. With August ending and September starting, so did Kane's touch in front of the goal; the Tottenham striker finally finding the net after his much-publicised struggles last month.

Malta, though, held firm in the face of sporadic England pressure until the end. Jamie Vardy, on for Alli with 20 minutes to go, almost met Rashford's delicate ball forward while Oxlade-Chamberlain dragged wide as the visitors went in search of a second.

Rashford then stung Hogg's hands with a fizzing drive before Bertrand made it 2-0 from range five minutes from time and Welbeck added a third with his first international goal for two-and-a-half years. Kane grabbed his double at the end to deepen Malta's gloom.

England, who remain two points clear at the top of Group F, face Slovakia at Wembley on Monday.

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