Monday, November 29, 2021

Quiet whisper but Kane could be back – player ratings and analysis as England beat Albania

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England prevailed with a 5-0 win over Albania as Kane became the Three Lions’ all-time competitive goalscorer

England 5 (Maguire 9 ′, Kane 18 ′, 33 ′, 45 + 1, Henderson 28 ′) Albania 0

The search for the soul is over. The failed move to Manchester City, the dark chapter of Nuno Espirito Santo, the break with Spurs fans – all this miserable fall fallout was erased in 45 minutes of pure Harry Kane.

If the first two goals were routine and neat, the third was a reminder to the world why Manchester City were ready to blow up the pay structure to get it. After a few near-hits, Kane finally speared a scissor thrust into the roof of the net at halftime.

The falling silhouette of Kane’s body betrayed what was to come, the arch of the ball that exploded from his boot left no room for doubt. There is no better center-forward in the world when this guy catches the eye. The goal brought England five without conceding a goal and left Kane alongside the late Jimmy Greaves with 44 international goals. Only Gary Lineker, Sir Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney achieved more.

Kane wasn’t the only failing institution resurrected by Wembley’s clean air. His namesake Maguire had his best game of the season and Raheem Sterling walked through the night like the alpha on the playground, dribbling the opponents into oblivion.

Perhaps it helped that England played against a rugby team, a group interrupted by Lock Forwards. In fact, it was a duel with one on Kane that nearly cut the Spurs striker in half and earned the free kick eagerly buried by Maguire. The delivery from Reece James was razor sharp, so Maguire only had to live up to his reputation as a “slab head” to get England to the top.

The hollow-eared cheer was probably to respond to critics of its recent form, although it seemed a little rude to show this to the teenagers huddled behind the gate. Albania, hailed for their home and away wins against Hungary, were completely overwhelmed. Phil Foden missed the chance to double the lead within 11 minutes.

It didn’t matter much. A brilliant combination on the right between Foden and Jordan Henderson gave Kane an easy header. The only flaw at this point was a faulty back pass from the occasionally sleepy Kyle Walker. It was thanks to Jordan Pickford that he turned Myrto Uzuni’s shot away when a goal seemed certain.

With so little to offer Albania, the selection of James and Ben Chilwell in the full-backs offered England exciting organization, not to mention some serious penetration. Albania’s tough ball tactics resulted in three yellow cards in the first 25 minutes, forcing them to make two substitutions.

Like clockwork, Jordan Henderson placed the third nine minutes after the second, which followed by an equal margin over the first. It was another finely crafted job, Henderson exchanging passes with Kane on the edge of the box, circling the defender and shooting home with his left foot.

In five previous meetings, England have scored 14 goals, lost only one and won each time. With England in the lead when you feel like they could even out their goals in this one game alone. Sterling didn’t score but caused a lot of suffering with his darts runs and played properly in Kane for England’s fourth in 33rdapprox Minute.

England played wonderfully. It has been some time since they appeared so coherent. How much of this was due to the agency’s own agency or Albania’s failures will only become apparent over time. Kane missed an easy hat-trick chance for him after another stormy run by James opened the Albanian defense. The next opportunity would come in a few minutes, this time Kane steered a header just wide of the goal. And then came the signature strike to end it in half.

The half-time whistle inevitably broke the spell. The result softened the urgency with which England began the game. Kane and Foden gave way to give Jack Grealish half an hour to further confuse the Albanian defenses. Sterling gave way with 13 minutes remaining to be replaced by Emile Smith Rowe, another handsome young man from the increasingly fertile English talent factory. With Jude Bellingham and Trent Alexander-Arnold also involved, it looked like Gareth Southgate was just showing off.

After beating San Marino on Monday, England only needs one point to qualify for the World Cup in a year’s time. Poland’s blow against Andorra means at least material significance for England’s last game by spring.

If this was in any way a confirmation of Southgate’s vision, England will have to bring the same authority in the closing stages of the tournaments to prove that they may have been right all along. Gone was the painful passivity that England had in the European Championship final against Italy and in the World Cup semi-final against Croatia. Instead, real faith was built on the towering presence of Harry Kane.

From Kat Lucas, I Sports journalist

Pickford 7: Little to do, but an important save against Myrto Uzuni and another direct shot from Sokol Cikalleshi.

Kyle Walker 6: Should have had an equally quiet night but brought England into trouble again with a dangerously short pass back to Pickford to get Uzuni on goal. Otherwise it was composed on the right side of the chain of three.

Ben Chillwell6: Withheld on the left while Reece James marauded on the right – a little disappointing by comparison.

Reece James 9: It was an exquisite delivery on Harry Maguire’s goal for the first goal. Albania is always causing problems.

John Stones 7: It was possible to keep Albania’s attackers at bay on a quiet night. Worrying scenes when he collided with James and needed medical attention after a head collision.

Harry Maguire 7: Made a couple of important interceptions. A goal against Albania is unlikely to silence its critics, as his cheers suggest.

Kalvin Phillips 7: Again solid at the side of Jordan Henderson and set the pace in midfield.

Jordan Henderson 8: An inch-perfect cross for Kane’s header and an adventurous run from midfield before outsmarting Albania’s center-back to score his own goal.

Harry Kane 9: Overtaken Wayne Rooney in 37th, 38th and 39th places for his country – is he back? Whatever there is to be said about the opponent’s caliber, a perfect hat trick was the most complete he looked all season, and despite having a poor mark, his volley shot was brilliantly executed. Just a few balls in Raheem Sterling too far behind him.

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