England’s 2020 European Championship qualification campaign wrapped up on Sunday with a slightly flattering 4-0 victory away to third-place, and playoff qualifiers, Kosovo.
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Gareth Southgate‘s side was hardly at its best just three days after thrashing Montenegro and securing qualification to this summer’s tournament. They only led by a score of 1-0 through 78 minutes, before scoring a trio of late goals to put the game out of reach and rob the hosts of any potential moral victory.
Harry Winks opened the scoring, and his England account, in the 32nd minute. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain found Winks near the top of Kosovo’s penalty area and though Winks’ first touch appeared quite poor, every player in blue stopped and stood as the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder walked in on goal and coolly slotted the ball home to make it 1-0.
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From that point forward, Kosovo enjoyed control of the game’s tempo and looked every bit the Three Lions’ equal. That is, until Harry Kane finished an open chance at the back post in the 79th minute and opened the floodgates.
Marcus Rashford added a third four minutes later, followed by another first England goal — this time, scored by Mason Mount — in the 91st.
England finishes EURO 2020 qualification with a record of 7W-0D-1L and a +31 goal differential, which is second only to Belgium who sit at +32 with one game still to play. England required Sunday’s victory to confirm its place as a Pot 1 team at the draw for the group stage.
With qualification to the 2020 European Championship secured earlier this week, England manager Gareth Southgate is set to rest most of his star players in favor of giving a number of younger players a chance to impress when the Three Lions take on Kosovo in Pristina on Sunday (12 p.m. ET).
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According to a report from Sky Sports, Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford will be rested to make way for Chelsea youngsters Tammy Abraham (four caps) and Callum Hudson-Odoi (two caps). Finally given a chance to play regular minutes for the Blues, Abraham has already scored 10 goals in 12 Premier League appearances this season. The 22-year-old former journeyman loanee scored his first England goal in the 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro on Thursday. Hudson-Odoi is yet to score in PL play this season, but has shown well following his return from a ruptured achilles late last season.
John Stones and Jordan Pickford will be moved to the bench after starting against Montenegro. They will likely be replaced by Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and Burnley’s Nick Pope. Mings has made just one appearance for England, while Pope would be making his first start. Stones is seen as having taken on an excessive workload this season due to the ongoing defensive injury crisis at Manchester City.
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Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez departed England camp on Saturday, due to illness and injury respectively. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Declan Rice and Mason Mount could start in midfield with James Maddison (calf) and injury doubt.
Another Chelsea youngster, 21-year-old Fikayo Tomori, is also said to be in line for his first England cap, most likely as a late-game substitute along the backline.
Coming off a 6-0 rout of Bulgaria last March, England picked up right where it left off as it ran away with a 5-0 lead at halftime.
Captain and striker Harry Kane bagged himself a first half hat-trick, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Marcus Rashford found themselves on the scoresheet as well. It’s the latest data point that predicts England to be one of the contenders for next summer’s European Championships, set to take place across Europe but with Wembley Stadium hosting the semifinals and final.
Oxlade-Chamberlain started the fun in the 11th minute, in his first England start for 19 months, since suffering a torn ACL in April, 2018 which ended his season and most of the next one. Left back Ben Chilwell floated a cross from left to the right wing where Oxlade-Chamberlain controlled it perfectly and fired a strike into the bottom corner.
Eight minutes later, it was Kane with a header goal through two Montenegro defenders off a Chilwell corner, giving the young left back his second assist of the game. In the 23rd minute, Kane again headed home a Chilwell corner from the edge of the six-yard box, beating his defender to the spot.
Rashford made it 4-0 to the Three Lions in the 30th minute after collecting a rebound off a save from Montenegro goalkeeper Milan Mijatovic. Rashford then curled a strike around the Montenegro defenders and inside the post for another goal. In the 37th minute, Kane finished off his hat-trick with a strike inside the box after a great feed by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Marcus Rashford is one of the good guys.
We knew that even before this heart-warming gesture.
John Burk is a cancer survivor from the State of Georgia who had never been to Old Trafford to see his beloved Manchester United play.
Now he’s been to the Theater of Dreams. In style.
Last month John’s friends, led by Matt Waymont, reached out to Rashford on Twitter to ask if he could help with tickets as they had raised money to fly with John to the UK for Man United’s clash with Brighton on Nov. 10.
The power of social media did the rest, as Rashford didn’t only get them tickets but gave them a VIP experience for the 3-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion on Sunday. Rashford scored United’s third goal to cap off a sensational trip for John and his friends.
United legends Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown all got in on the act too, as Rashford and Co. rolled out the carpet for their fans from the USA. They watched the game from Rashford’s private box, ate at Rio’s restaurant, stayed at Neville’s hotel and were given a tour of Old Trafford by Brown.
Take a look at the video below to get a taste of what John and the lads got up to during their incredible trip to Old Trafford.
This is truly wonderful.
Manchester United outclassed Partizan Belgrade in a 3-0 win on Thursday, cementing its status in the knockout rounds of the Europa League.
Mason Greenwood had a goal and an assist, while Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial also scored at Old Trafford.
[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
United beat Partizan 1-0 in Belgrade, and sits six points clear of them. AZ Alkmaar also won today and has eight points to the Red Devils’ 10.
Three things we learned
1. Red Devils follow plan to a 3: This fixture was always supposed to be straightforward, and United was able to put it on cruise control with goals from Greenwood and Martial before halftime. Rashford blasted an Ashley Young feed home four minutes into the second half to cast out any thoughts of a Partizan comeback. As a bonus, the domination — Shots were 14-2 — allowed 18-year-old James Garner to get a half hour run.
2. Teenage dream: Greenwood turned 18 just five weeks ago, but he finishes like a season veteran. Look how coolly he slots home near post while giving the far post eyes. He’s yet to score in 11 Premier League appearances, but those goals are coming, aren’t they? Now if only the Red Devils supporters and the media can avoid demanding he score 30 a season before he’s ready (looks at Marcus Rashford).
3. In-form Rashford finding his groove: United’s 22-year-old striker got on the score sheet for the fourth time in five matches. He was blanked against Bournemouth at the weekend but now has five goals and an assist in his last quintet of matches. The expectations placed on him so early in his career were stupid, but they’ve created a pretty hardened man. Now if only he can figure out that whole penalty thing.
Man of the Match: Rashford.