England 4-0 Bulgaria
HARRY KANE’S hat-trick inspired England to another resounding Euro 2020 victory as Bulgaria became the latest side on the receiving end of a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying hammering off Gareth Southgate’s men.
The Czech Republic and Montenegro had already been stylishly dispatched – each by five goals – and England looked keen on another avalanche of goals in front of a crowd of almost 83,000 at the home of football.
Against a Bulgarian side a million miles from that which delighted the footballing fraternity by reaching a 1996 World Cup semi-final – the result never really looked in doubt.
Kane supplied a neat finish after Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling had fashioned an opening, only to be thwarted by an assistants flag. However, the Spurs frontman was not to be denied.
Kieran Trippier seized on some ‘Keystone Cops’ defending by the Bulgarians, picking the pocket of Vasil Bozhikov close to the touchline before teeing up the skipper, who rattled low beyond stopper, Plamen Iliev, for England’s opener.
Despite largely controlling the opening period, England appeared a little sluggish. The home side survived a scare when Wanderson muscled in from the left, forcing Jordan Pickford into a smart save immediately after the interval. But within seconds, Marcus Rashford was felled by Nikolay Bodurov – Kane, confidently doing the honours, sending Iliev the wrong way from the resulting spot-kick.
From an England perspective, the proverbial ‘hand-break’ was now off. The busy Sterling was on hand to add a third from close range – this after Kane had turned provider, firing low across goal, into the Manchester City man’s path.
It was now looking like a case of how many? Bulgarian substitute, Kristian Dimitrov, was clumsy on Kane – Once again, the England captain emphatically rattled home from the spot – registering his 25th goal in a Three Lions shirt and bagging the match ball to boot.
England now takes their UEFA Euro qualifying campaign on the road, facing Kosovo at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton on Tuesday, September 17 (8pm).
England: Jordan Pickford, Kieran Trippier, Danny Rose, Declan Rice, Michael Keane, Harry Maguire, Raheem Sterling (Jadon Sancho 71’), Jordan Henderson (Mason Mount 67), Harry Kane (Capt) (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 77’), Ross Barkley, Marcus Rashford Subs not used: Tom Heaton (GK), Nick Pope (GK), Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ben Chilwell, Tyrone Mings, Harry Winks, James Maddison, Callum Wilson
Booked: Danny Rose (foul)
Goals: Harry Kane 24’, 49 (penalty)’ 76’ (penalty), Raheem Sterling 55’
Bulgaria: Plamen Iliev, Strahil Popov, Nikolay Bodurov (Kristian Dimitrov 65’), Marcelinho (Kiril Sespodov 68’), Georgi Sarmov, Wanderson, Ivelin Popov (Capt), Anton Nedyalkov, Vasil Bozhikov, Kristiyan Malinov, Galin Ivanov (Daniel Mladenov 87’) Subs not used: Hristo Ivanov (GK), Martin Lukov (GK), Georgi Pashov, Simeon Slavchev, Bozhidar Kraev, Georgi Milanov, Ivan Goranov, Georgi Terziev, Nikolay Dimitrov
Booked: Nikolay Bodurov (foul)
Referee: Marco Guida (Italy)
Assistants: Matteo Passeri and Giorgio Peretti (Both Italy)
Fourth Official: Michael Fabbri (Italy)
Updates, Report and Reaction to follow….