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Halftime: England races out to 5-0 lead

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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.

English women attract record crowd but lose to Germany

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LONDON — A record crowd of 77,768 for English women’s soccer saw fresh struggles for Phil Neville‘s side in a 2-1 loss to Germany at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

England has now lost five of its last seven games, starting with the World Cup semifinal loss to the United States in July.

“I’m really sorry we couldn’t get the result,” England forward Ellen White addressed fans on the field.

White did turn things around for England just before halftime, canceling out Alexandra Popp’s ninth-minute header.

But just when the Lionesses were preparing to celebrate claiming a draw against the world’s second-ranked team, Klara Buhl struck in stoppage time.

As the rain fell in north London, there won’t have seemed much to celebrate for the hosts.

But the English attracted what appears to be the biggest-ever crowd for a women’s friendly, anywhere.

The previous best-attended women’s game was in 1999 when more than 90,000 watched the U.S. beat China in the World Cup final at the Rose Bowl in California.

The next biggest crowd came at Wembley in the 2012 London Olympics when just over 80,000 saw the U.S. beat Japan.

The increased interest in the Lionesses is highlighted by the fact Wembley has added around 30,000 fans to the attendance that saw England lose to Germany at the stadium five years ago.

Tottenham confirm Arsenal game will be at Wembley

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The north London derby will officially take place at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur confirmed the decision to host their clash against Arsenal on March 2 at their temporary home, as their new 62,000 capacity venue at White Hart Lane still isn’t ready.

Spurs’ new home was supposed to open in September 2018, but the move-in date was then pushed back to December, and now, here we are. They will play at Wembley against Arsenal in the NLD, and the stadium will have its full 90,000 capacity available for the game.

In a statement released by Spurs on Thursday, they revealed that the final stages of testing the critical safety system is coming up. That suggests that their first game in the new stadium could happen in late March or early April.

“We can today report that remedial works on the safety systems in the new stadium are near completion and we shall then move forward to the final stages of testing the fire detection and alarm system and its integration with the other safety systems. The success of this testing is critical to our ability to obtain a safety certificate and open the stadium. We can confirm, therefore, that we shall play our Premier League match against Arsenal on Saturday 2 March at Wembley Stadium.”

Daniel Levy, Chairman, said: “Once again, thank you all for bearing with us and for the great support we have received from so many different quarters. These next few weeks are pivotal.”

Tottenham added that they will “provide a further update in due course” as their next home game after the Arsenal clash is against Crystal Palace on Mar. 17.

The only issue is, Palace are still in the FA Cup so their game against Spurs may be pushed back until later in the season if they qualify for the quarterfinals which take place on the weekend of Mar. 16-17.

Therefore, Spurs will have to wait even longer for their homecoming. As we all know, a bit of extra time is probably a good thing…

With home games against Arsenal, Palace, Brighton, Huddersfield, West Ham and Everton remaining, is now a good time to just call this off and have Spurs start playing in their new stadium from the start of the 2019-20 campaign?

They will argue that they could get past Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League last 16 and have even more home games scheduled between now and May, plus moving home could give them a boost in the final months of the PL season as they’re still in with a shout to win the title.

Many will call into question integrity issues of Spurs getting an advantage by moving stadiums during a season, but the atmosphere at Wembley in recent games has been poor as the capacity for games has been capped to 51,000.

The novelty of playing at England’s national stadium now seems to have worn off among most Spurs fans, and who can blame them after 18 months at Wembley.

Moving Spurs into their new stadium as soon as possible must be the priority.

Opposition to Wembley sale ‘bizarre’ and led by ‘old men’

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Greg Dyke sees Shahid Khan’s capsized bid to buy Wembley Stadium as a massive missed opportunity for English soccer, and the former Football Association chairman is quite displeased by the “bizarre” opposition of the “old men” on the FA council.

[ MORE: What did we learn in the Premier League, Week 9? ]

With an offer of more than $780 million on the table, Dyke believes that unprecedented — and otherwise impossible — investments could have been made to grassroots soccer that might just create a brighter future for the English game. If only it wasn’t for those meddling kids “the council is living in the past, as it always has done,” as he put it — quotes from the BBC:

“If I’d been chairman, I would have said it is the board’s decision.

“I don’t think the council is equipped to make this decision — that is what the FA board is for.”

Most notably, England is in desperate need of artificial playing fields up and down the country, as well as a tidal wave of newly licensed coaches to begin working at younger and younger age groups.

“The FA has only owned Wembley for 10 to 15 years, before that it was a private business.

“The idea you are going to lose something of value to Britain because it is not owned by the FA is the wrong one compared to spending [$784 million] doing what is desperately needed in this country and that is to spend money on grassroots facilities.

“If you want to have a step change in grassroots facilities in this country, you need this sort of money to be spent.

“It’s bizarre that the old men of the FA Council have stopped this.

“One of the tragedies of English football in recent years is that all the extra money that has come into the Premier League has by and large gone to players or agents, and not to football generally.”

Oftentimes, tradition and history come at the expense of revolution and progression, only to later realize that a golden opportunity has come and gone.

$800 million sale of Wembley moves to next stage

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American businessman Shahid Khan has moved a step closer to owning Wembley Stadium.

The current owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham Football Club made an offer of close to $800 million to buy the home of world soccer from the English Football Association and the latter have been discussing the bid.

On Thursday the English FA revealed that talks were held about how to spend the money the sale of Wembley would provide and that discussions have moved onto the next stage.

“The sale of Wembley Stadium, the negotiated protections and an outlined plan to invest £600m into football community facilities, were presented and discussed at The FA Board meeting today. Following on from this discussion, The FA Board has agreed to take the presentation to The FA Council to get its input now that the full facts are known.”

Khan then released a statement saying that his potential purchase of Wembley would have “no effect on my plans to renovate Craven Cottage and, as such, has no impact on Craven Cottage continuing to be the permanent home of Fulham Football Club.”

He also added that he will continue “toward reaching an agreement that will serve English football for generations to come” as his plans are moved onto the next level with the English FA.

The FA Council will now meet to Oct. 11 in what is seen as the crunch meeting in deciding whether or not the bid will be accepted.

In theory the bid could have been rejected by the FA Board but the fact that they will now present to the council suggests it is being taken seriously.

The main talking point about the stadium being sold is that it would provide a huge cash injection for the FA to use on building the grassroots game in England and improving facilities for young players.

It is believed that the English national team will still play their home games at Wembley, but the fact that they have played recent internationals in Leeds and Leicester suggests they could move around the country with certain games in the years to come.