England 4-0 Bulgaria: Kane hat-trick does little to lighten the mood in dull win

Featured in the Raumdeuter Online Magazine – Edition #14

England were in no danger of ever jeopardising their 100% record in Euro 2020 qualifying when they came up against a Bulgaria side rooted to the bottom of the Group A table.

Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions cruised to victory in a game full of goals, and yet somehow seeming to lack the excitement a 4-0 win would typically bring about. It was all very routine, training ground stuff on display at Wembley.

England captain Harry Kane netted a hat-trick in the game, while Raheem Sterling provided the other, as the attacking pair proved simply too much for their Bulgarian opponents, brushing them aside without ever really leaving a canter.

An error by Bulgaria goalkeeper Plamen Iliev created the opportunity for England to open the scoring, as Sterling seized on the chance in the 24th minute and fed it through to Kane. A smart finish on the turn from the Tottenham man was enough to break the deadlock.

From there, England cruised to the interval free of any real hints of danger or concern from their opponents and just four minutes after the restart, they were awarded a spot kick. Nikolay Bodurov fouled Marcus Rashford, allowing Kane to step up and dispatch the penalty confidently.

By this stage, the Three Lions were in complete, dominant control of the match. As such, it came as little surprise in the 55th minute when Kane crossed for Sterling to bundle home a scruffy third and kill off any last shreds of competition left in the match – not that they’d reared their head at any real stage up until that point.

Kristian Dimitrov was caught out later on, and hauled Kane to the ground to gift England another spot kick. The fouled man Kane stepped up once more, and dispatched with similar ease as his first, completing his treble in a truly lacklustre game.

That goal took the 26-year-old striker’s England tally to an impressive 25 goals from 40 appearances, as well as marking his second hat-trick for his country after achieving the same feat against Panama at the 2018 World Cup.

While not necessarily providing the England players with competitive practice ahead of the Euro 2020 tournament come season-end, the easy nature of the match did provide Southgate with the opportunity to bed in some younger, fresh faces into the national team setup.

Chelsea’s Mason Mount, who has continued to impress this season domestically following his highly successful loan spell with Derby County last campaign, was given a senior England debut. Mount’s debut showed the strength in depth England has at its disposal, with young stars now coming through the ranks.

England now face Kosovo in their next qualifier in Southampton, and are likely to face greater competition from the Balkan nation – having themselves secured a memorable and key 2-1 victory over the Czech Republic in their own qualifier, placing them two points ahead of the Czechs and in prime position to secure the second qualifying spot from Group A.

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