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.
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.
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.
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.
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.