Harry Kane scored a Panama hat-trick as Gareth Southgate’s young Lions gained entry to the next stage of the World Cup with a game to spare.
“It’s all coming together”
Captain Kane became the first player worldwide since 1974 to score to a brace or more on his first and second World Cup games. He’s also scored in every game he has captained, with an incredible eleven goals from seven games.
Kane scored his third following two penalties gifted by an aggressive and messy Panama defence. Though England did look nervous at the start as Panama came out confident, they soon settled to produce an incredible five goals inside the first half; a tally that included Jesse Lingard’s wonder-goal.
The young lions defied the heat and bully-boy tactics of the Panama defence to roar to an amazing 6-1 victory in Nizhny Novgorod.
“It’s fantastic, I’m so proud of the boys”
Captain Kane spoke after the match of his pride following a dynamic England performance.
“It’s fantastic, I’m so proud of the boys, we’re just enjoying it you know, being here. We knew it was going to be tough, they started pretty well, but we’ve been working on set-pieces. We’ve been working on the way we want to play and it’s all coming together. So yeah a brilliant result, obviously fantastic to be through. And to do it in this way is just brilliant.”
Panama Hat-trick for Harry
His three goals put him up there with the Gary Lineker and Geoff Hurst as the only English players to score a hat-trick in a World Cup finals.
After a superb performance, it would be easy to get carried away, as many fans will. Understandable considering the scoreline. When asked if the team believed they could lift the trophy he said;
“I said before you have to believe. If you want to achieve anything that you want in life, you have to believe. I’ve said there’s still a long way to go, and we’ve just got to stick together and keep to our plan.”
Now the leading goal scorer in the tournament, he will be looking hard at the Golden Boot. Other top performances were put in by Kieran Trippier, who excelled again with superb passing and accurate corner taking. Kyle Walker was also solid at the back.
Stones and Lingard Make Their Mark
John Stones also had a phenomenal game, netting an unlikely brace, and a solid game throughout. Jesse Lingard contributed a beautiful strike to the tally. He also made some decisive runs, escaping his marker and finding space. The young forward will have earned a gold star for his efforts. Will it be enough for a start against Belgium?
Dilly Over Dele or Turn Another Cheek?
The result poses questions as to whether Ruben Loftus-Cheek should hold his spot, or will Dele Alli be given the start after today’s showing?
Potential opponents will be looking at the danger now from set pieces from England. The hours of practice were evident today and encouraging. Especially going into what will be a much tougher match against Belgium. The question remains whether Gareth Southgate will change the formula, or stick with the eleven that worked so well today, albeit against poor defensive opposition.
Belgium, bearing the might of Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, Kevin De Bruyne and an in-form Romelu Lukaku will be performing at a different level to the scrappy effort of Panama. Whether the Spurs connection will work for or against England in the Belgium match, remains to be seen. An interesting scenario either way.
Either way, it promises to be the most challenging and exciting clash either side will have played. Both sides being through to the next stage allows room for change. It’s clear though that Southgate wants to continue to win. There will be no Lions basking it seems. Not least Kane, who will be eyeing the golden boot as well as leading the charge.
Southgate: “We want to keep momentum”
Gareth Southgate contained the joy, pointing out that the beginning and end of the game saw lapses of concentration. He wouldn’t be pushed as to whether or not he would make alterations for the Belgium tie. When asked what changes, if any, he would make for the Belgian game he replied:
“Well, we want to keep momentum. So we will have to think about the team we want to put out. Plus there are players that need an opportunity, that perhaps haven’t played for a while. But yeah, we wanna keep winning football matches. But it’s a nice decision to have.“
Nice indeed, the first two tests passed. It will be an exciting match and the first full test for a hopeful England side.
— Jan Vertonghen (@JanVertonghen) June 23, 2018