Gareth Southgate’s side would maintain a perfect record in Group A
The opening 35 seconds did foreshadow the reality this wasn’t a totally flawless performance from England. You could even say it was a performance of two halves beyond the scoring: exceptional attacking, questionable defending. There were more errors in it than just Keane’s misplaced pass that set up Valon Berisha’s opening goal, which maybe reflects the huge margin for error in this group at the moment.
Raheem Sterling scored and recorded a trio of assists while Jadon Sancho hit his first England goals as Gareth Southgate’s side came from behind to beat Kosovo 5-3 in Southampton.The Manchester City star, in his latest masterclass, brought the brilliantly refreshing Jadon Sancho along with him by setting up both the Borussia Dortmund forward’s goals.England can take another giant step towards Euro 2020 qualification when they face Kosovo in Southampton on Tuesday.
Kosovo’s mild second-half comeback to make it a mere 5-3 illustrated that they are indeed a better team than everyone else in this group, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the first half.
This England team, however, don’t look like one as susceptible to embarrassment as so many of their predecessors. They’ve already altered so many realities around the side.
Victory would mean Gareth Southgate’s side would maintain a perfect record in Group A, having already recorded wins against the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Montenegro, scoring 14 goals and conceding just one in the process.
Kosovo, who face the Three Lions for the first time, are as yet undefeated in their debut qualifying campaign, with two wins and two draws to their credit.
“It is clear for me it will be a very, very hard game but it is a possibility for our very young team to show what is a very, very high level.”
England are undefeated in qualifiers since losing 1-0 to Ukraine in October 2009, enjoying a run of 42 games without a loss, including 33 wins. It is a run that Southgate expects to improve in unfamiliar surroundings against new opponents.
Another altered reality is that, after all the discussion over whether he is undroppable, Harry Kane no longer feels England’s most important player. And that was long before he missed that penalty, despite all the practice.