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Harry Kane's hot streak continues as England win in Lithuania Featured

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Published in Football
Monday, 09 October 2017 07:29

LFF Stadium, World Cup qualifying Group F - Lithuania 0 England 1 (Kane pen 27')

Harry Kane’s hot streak continued as he scored the winner in England’s 1-0 victory over Lithuania in their final qualifying match ahead of the World Cup in Russia.
Having already won Group F after a 1-0 victory over Slovenia on Thursday, manager Gareth Southgate made seven changes to his team, handing Harry Winks and Harry Maguire debuts in a 3-4-3 formation for the match in Vilnius.

In a disjointed performance, Dele Alli, back in the side after suspension, won a first-half penalty when he was felled by Ovidijus Verbackas. His Tottenham team-mate Kane duly dispatched the spot-kick for his 15th goal in his last 10 matches for club and country.

Michael Keane had earlier gone close for the visitors, but in truth, England offered little in the way of clear-cut chances thereafter.

Tottenham’s Winks was denied a goal on his debut when his shot was well saved by Ernestas Setkus, but it was Lithuania – who won only once in Group F – who threatened most; Jack Butland was forced into a good stop as Keane almost inadvertently sent the ball into his own net, while Deivydas Matulevicius spurned a late opportunity.
Once again England did just enough to record the three points - they are now unbeaten in their last four campaigns in qualifying for major tournaments - but it was another unimaginative and unconvincing display from Southgate’s side.

TALKING POINT

3-4-3 isn't the answer for insipid England: Southgate opted for an experimental 3-4-3 formation, and while England’s front-three, Marcus Rashford, Alli and Kane, linked-up well, at times in the first half, the showing after the restart was incredibly flat and one-paced.

There was at least some cause for optimism as the performance of debutant Winks in the centre of the park indicated the Spurs playmaker may have a role to play in Russia, while Harry Maguire, also making his debut, looked OK in defence.
But all-in-all, it was simply not good enough. Southgate should probably go back to basics for the home friendlies against Brazil and Germany in November.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Marcus Rashford (England) - The Manchester United youngster was at nowhere near his brilliant best, but was probably England's stand-out player in the first half and looked most likely to make things happen.

PLAYER RATINGS

Lithuania: Setkus 7, Andriuskevicius 5, Klimavicius 5, Girdvainis 5, Borovskij 5, Zulpa 5, Slivka 5, Verbickas 4, Cernych 5, Novikovas 5, Sernas 6. Subs: Matulevicius 5,

England: Butland 6, Keane 6, Maguire 7, Stones 6, Trippier 6, Winks 7, Henderson 5, Cresswell 7, Alli 7, Kane 7, Rashford 7. Subs: Sturridge 6, Lingard 6.

KEY MOMENTS

11’ - THE HOSTS SHOULD BE AHEAD! Sernas peels away from Maguire at the back post as a cross comes in, but somehow slices his first-time effort wide of the goal from inside the box. A let off for England!

24’ - KEANE GOES CLOSE! Lithuania fail to clear Cresswell's deep free-kick, and the ball eventually sits up nicely for Keane just inside the box, but the Everton defender screws his first-time volley wide of the goal. That is the closest England have come.

26’ - PENALTY TO ENGLAND! Alli is brought down inside the box by Verbickas, and the referee has no choice other than to point to the spot. This is the perfect chance for Kane to put the visitors ahead...
27’ - GOAL - KANE SCORES! A superb penalty from England's talisman as he sends the ball into the bottom left corner. The goalkeeper dived the right way but couldn't get near it.

52’ – CHANCE FOR WINKS! Setkus isn't at all convincing as he punches Cresswell's dangerous cross right into the path of Winks, but he makes amends with a smart save from the Tottenham playmaker's shot. Almost a debut goal for Winks.

54’ - CHANCE FOR LITHUANIA! A dangerous low ball into the England box causes Keane all sorts of problems, and in an effort to concede a corner he almost inadvertently sends it into his own net! He is bailed out by Butland who makes a good reactive save.

83’ - GREAT CHANCE TO EQUALISE! Matulevicius is released behind the England defence and the ball sits up perfectly for him, but his half-volley is struck straight at Butland who gathers on the second attempt. Either side of him and it was a goal.

KEY STATS

Harry Kane has scored 15 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions for club and country.
Of the 43 goals that Harry Kane has scored for club and country in 2017, only four have been penalties.
A Spurs player has been directly involved in nine of England's last 11 goals across all competitions.
England end their Group F programme with eight clean sheets in 10 matches.
England have won all four of their previous encounters with Lithuania on the international stage, scoring 10 and conceding none in the process.

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  • Harry Kane sends England to Russia World Cup with stoppage-time winner

    World Cup Qualifier, Wembley – England 1 (Harry Kane 94’) Slovenia 0

    Harry Kane struck at the death as England booked their place at the 2018 World Cup finals despite an underwhelming display in a 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley.

    Gareth Southgate's side knew their fate was in their own hands, but laboured for long spells until Kane pounced in stoppage time to claim his 14th goal in his last nine matches for club and country.
    Scotland's victory over Slovakia meant a point would have been enough in the end, but this England side's habit for scoring late on resurfaced at just the right time to ensure they rounded off their Wembley campaign on a positive note.

    The result means the Three Lions are six points clear of second-placed Scotland, with just one game to play in Group F.

    England will now look to remain unbeaten in qualifying when they visit Lithuania on Sunday.

    TALKING POINT

    Mission accomplished in underwhelming fashion for Southgate, but the big test is yet to come. Overall, it's been a qualifying campaign littered with average performances and a hint of controversy - but at the end of it all it is a case of job done. Southgate answered the SOS call following Sam Allardyce's ever so brief reign and has steered his side through a group they were always expected to top. Of course, England sides of recent years have been fine in qualifying, but it's at the major tournaments where they come up way short. Clocking up so many qualifying matches without a loss is no mean feat, but there's no doubt England will have to improve if they are to make any sort of significant impression when faced with sterner tests in Russia next summer. Expectations will remain low based on this evidence.
    MAN OF THE MATCH

    Marcus Rashford (England). The Manchester United starlet is the go-to man when it come to looking for a spark in this England side. Could and perhaps should have scored in the second half, but most of England's good moments came through him on the left until Kane stole the headlines in the 94th minute. Rashford turns 20 later this month and seems a shoe-in for a starting berth in Russia next summer.
    PLAYER RATINGS

    ENGLAND: Hart 8, Walker 7, Bertrand 7, Stones 7, Cahill 7, Henderson 6, Dier 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Sterling 6, Rashford 8, Kane 6. Subs: Lingard 6, Keane n/a.

    SLOVENIA: Oblak 7, Struna 6, Mevlja 6, Cesar 6, Jokic 6, Rotman 6, Krhin 6, Bezjak 6, Ilicic 7, Verbic 6, Sporar 6. Subs: Birsa 7, Repas 6, Matavz 7.

    Matchcast: Full match stats and commentary


    9' - PENALTY SHOUT! Josip Ilicic makes a clever dart to the right of the penalty area and is rewarded with a corner as Hart came to block. The Slovenian looks at the referee quizzically. Replays show the keeper didn't get the ball and appeared to catch the forward's heel. Let off for England?

    45+1' - ENGLAND CHANCE. Rashford tries to catch Oblak out with a low free kick towards the near post, but the keeper is alert to the danger and pushes it wide.

    63' - ENGLAND CHANCE. England break from a Slovenia corner. Sterling leads the charge and lays it into the path of Rashford who goes for the lob over the advancing keeper but sees it hacked clear inside the six-yard box.

    69' - ENGLAND CHANCE. Rashford causes problems on the left once more. He finds Sterling, who sees his shot blocked before Kane flashes the follow-up just past the far post.
    85' - SLOVENIA CHANCE. Hart comes out to bravely save at the feet of Tim Matavz after the Slovenia striker was sent clear. The keeper then saves the follow-up. Replays showing it should have been flagged offside - but Hart didn't know that.

    90+4' - GOAL! ENGLAND 1-0 SLOVENIA. Kane lifts the mood inside Wembley as he slides home Walker's cross after the full back had seized upon Oblak's over-anxious early throw out. England are heading to Russia!

    KEY STATS

    England have lost just one of their last 19 matches at home, and none in the last eight, winning eight and drawing one.

    England qualify for World Cup for 6th successive time, equalling their record. They also participated in six in a row from 1950 to 1970.

    Kane's previous international home goal was on 22 May 2016, in England's 2-1 friendly win against Turkey at Etihad Stadium.

  • John Stones thinks Harry Kane has the drive to keep hitting new heights

    John Stones believes Harry Kane has the drive and desire to keep hitting new heights, despite already establishing himself as the country's top goalscorer.

    Kane heads into England's last two World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia and Lithuania on the back of a remarkable 13 goals in his last eight appearances, a hot streak that began with a brace against Malta on September 1.

    The Spurs striker is the talk of the Premier League as he hunts down a third successive golden boot and his continued success is no surprise to Stones, who first lined up with him when the pair were teenagers.

    "I've played with him from England Under-19s so I know his game and how he plays, how hungry he is to keep improving," said the Manchester City defender.
    "Harry's been doing it for years now and I think he's got that hunger that he'll keep doing it. He is in great form for his club and he's raring to go and bring that into international football. It's great to have him here for England."

    Stones stopped short of anointing Kane as the best striker in the country, with a hint of tribal loyalty to club-mates Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus to the fore, but did not hesitate when asked if he had the leadership skills to add the permanent England captaincy to his CV.

    "I think obviously everyone has their own personal preference," he said when asked if Kane was the Premier League's number one.

    "I play with different strikers to the boys here but his goals speak for themselves at the minute. In the team I'm in we've got a lot of players scoring goals, not just one kind of hitman who's scoring week in, week out.

    "It's a difficult one, we're both on the same team now but I'm not too sure what date we play Tottenham!
    "Harry is in great form and hopefully he can bring that to the England team."

    As for captaincy, a role Kane has split with Jordan Henderson, Gary Cahill and Joe Hart in recent times, Stones added: "I think he's got everything.

    "There's a lot of players, a lot of experience and a lot of candidates to be England captain. Harry is definitely one of those candidates."

    For his own part Stones has had a strong start to the season at City and is now looking to nail down his Three Lions jersey.

    Having started the qualifying campaign as a first-choice player, he found himself on bench duty for last month's double header against Malta and Slovakia, with Cahill and Phil Jones preferred.

    Jones' withdrawal from the squad on Monday opens the door for him again and it is a chance he is eager to grasp.

    "All I can do is come here, train hard and give the manager a choice to make," he said.

    "It's never easy for him, he's got so many players in so many positions that all we can do is go away, play well for our clubs, work hard on and off the pitch and try to bring that to international football.

    "All you can do is give the manager a bit of a headache."

  • Dele Alli banned for one game by FIFA for middle-finger gesture

    England midfielder Dele Alli has been handed a one-match ban by FIFA for his middle-finger gesture during the World Cup qualifier against Slovakia.

    The incident came about during England’s 2-1 victory at the start of September, when Alli was frustrated by referee Clement Turpin’s failure to give a free-kick for what he felt was a foul by Martin Skrtel.
    Alli was caught on camera sticking up his middle finger, but after the match claimed it was directed at his former club team-mate Kyle Walker, with the Football Association submitting evidence to try and prove this.

    He could have received a suspension of up to four matches, but FIFA have decided to hand the Tottenham player a one-match ban.

    World football's governing body said in a statement that although the gesture was "allegedly directed at team-mate" it was still "offensive and unsporting."

    It means that Alli will miss the match against Slovenia at Wembley on October 5, but is free to play in the clash in Lithuania three days later.

  • Harry Kane strikes twice as 10-man Spurs survive late scare to beat West Ham

    Premier League, London Stadium - West Ham 2 (Hernandez 65, Kouyate 87) Tottenham 3 (Kane 34, 38, Eriksen 60).

    Tottenham survived a late scare against West Ham to take three points at the London Stadium.
    West Ham started brightest, with lone striker Javier Hernandez almost finding an early opener. However, Spurs seized on the home side's lack of rhythm when Andy Carroll was introduced for the injured Michail Antonio.

    Carroll lost possession to allow Harry Kane to convert a swift counter-attack, and he made it two minutes later with another quick Spurs move.

    In the second half, Eriksen extended Spurs's lead, but Hernandez pulled one back minutes before Serge Aurier received a second yellow card. Cheikhou Kouyate's late header gave West Ham a fleeting hope of rescuing a draw.
    They failed to capitalise however and, with their win, Spurs moved into third place – however briefly – while the pressure is now back on Slaven Bilic following a loss to their bitter London rivals.

    TALKING POINT

    Is Serge Aurier able to settle down? There were flashes of real talent against West Ham, but there were also a string of silly fouls in the first half that made a yellow almost inevitable in the second half. His second yellow was reckless and needless, and it makes you wonder if Aurier is still suffering from his slack decision making that he showed in France.
    MAN OF THE MATCH

    Harry Kane (Spurs): Kane's two goals in the first half kicked off victory for Spurs, and his free-kick started the move that led to Eriksen's record-breaking goal. Without him, Spurs would have had no room for error once Aurier departed, and he now seems well back in form after August's troubles.

    PLAYER RATINGS

    West Ham: Hart 6, Zabaleta 6, Reid 6, Ogbonna 6, Fonte 6, Cresswell 6, Noble 6, Kouyate 7, Antonio 6, Arnautovic 6, Hernandez 7. Subs: Masuaku 7, Ayew 6, Carroll 6.

    Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris 7, Aurier 5, Alderweireld 6, Sanchez 6, Vertonghen 6, Davies 6, Dier 6, Sissoko 7, Eriksen 7, Dele 7, Kane 8. Subs: Trippier 7, Winks 7, Llorente 6.

    KEY EVENTS

    34' - GOAL! West Ham 0-1 Spurs. Kane scores - Eriksen picks out Alli's run behind the defence on the inside right channel. Alli measures a cross to the near post, and Kane glances his header past Hart.

    38' - GOAL! West Ham 0-2 Spurs. Kane scores - Hart clears into midfield, and Vertongen is released down the left. He picks out Alli, his shot strikes Hart's legs, running into the path of Kane for an easy finish into an empty net.
    60' - GOAL! West Ham 0-3 Spurs. Eriksen scores - Kane fires in a free-kick that whips in against the post. It comes out to Aurier, whose cross is deflected, and Eriksen clips in a half-volley into the bottom corner.

    65' - GOAL! West Ham 1-3 Spurs. Hernandez scores - Fonte wins a corner for Wet Ham on the right. Cresswell curls it in, Fonte flicks it on to the back post, and Hernandez is on hand to nod in.

    69' - RED CARD! Aurier is off. After asking for trouble for much of the first half, Aurier goes in through the back of Carroll. Carroll was posing no danger - in his own half - and even Pochettino seems nonplussed over his decision-making.

    GOAL! West Ham 2-3 Spurs. Kouyate scores - The midfielder powers in a header. Masuaku beats his man down the left, and sends in a cross that is met by a huge leap from Kouyate.

    KEY STAT

    This is the first time that Spurs have conceded two or more goals on the road in the Premier League since February 2017.

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    Adam Hurrey searches for a Belfast grandparent as England show little reason to feel optimistic for the World Cup in 2018...

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