Saturday. 20.04.2024

Harry Kane scored a first half hat-trick as England all but secured World Cup qualification with Friday’s five-star display in a 5-0 win against Albania.

A first sell-out Wembley crowd in two years witnessed a one-sided final home match of a memorable year in which the Three Lions went agonisingly close to winning the European Championship.

The Euro 2020 runners-up will get another shot at silverware next winter, barring an unthinkable turn of events, after running out comprehensive victors against Albania under the arch.

Friday’s win means Southgate’s side only need to avoid defeat in San Marino – the world’s worst side – on Monday to confirm their place in Qatar, where the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists will be among the favourites.

England showed their quality in a ruthless, free-flowing first half, with Harry Maguire sending a message to the critics when celebrating his headed opener at Wembley.

Kane has also been far from his best of late but the skipper put that right against Albania, scoring a perfect hat-trick as he followed up a headed opener with a left-footed strike and right-footed stoppage-time scissor kick.

Outstanding first half

The Tottenham striker moved on to a record 39 competitive goals for England and level in the all-time goalscoring rankings with the late, great Jimmy Greaves on 44.

Kane also provided the assist for Jordan Henderson’s goal in an outstanding first half followed by a controlled second period as the Three Lions avoided exerting unnecessary energy in the penultimate match of a mammoth year.

England enter the final matchday three points and six goals clear of Poland who after a 4-1 win at Andorra are assured of a top-two finish ahead of their final game at home against Hungary.

The group winner qualifies directly for the 2022 finals in Qatar, the runner-up goes into play-offs.

Harry Kane hat-trick the highlight of England’s five-star Wembley win