Harry Kane's Hat-Trick Leads England Past Bulgaria in Euro 2020 Qualifying

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 7, 2019

England's striker Harry Kane celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal, from the penalty spot, and his hatrick, during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying first round Group A football match between England and Bulgaria at Wembley Stadium in London on September 7, 2019. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE        (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

England won for a third time in as many matches in Group A of the qualification campaign for UEFA Euro 2020 by beating Bulgaria 4-0 at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.

Harry Kane scored his second England hat-trick and Raheem Sterling got the other as the Three Lions moved on to nine points and into top spot in the group.

Kane converted twice from the penalty spot and also assisted Sterling's close-range finish in the second half.

A drab first half came briefly to life in the 24th minute when Bulgaria goalkeeper Plamen Iliev's errant pass went straight to Sterling, and the Manchester City winger tricked his way past two markers before finding Kane for a tap-in.

The goal should have encouraged quicker, more enterprising play from the Three Lions, but the pace of passing remained slow, and the hosts also struggled to take enough chances when working the ball forward.

Even so, England should have been two up just before the break when Kane rose to meet a cross from his former Tottenham team-mate Kieran Trippier but Kane placed his header straight at Iliev.

The game needed a spark, and England found it by exploiting the wide areas more often. Marcus Rashford received the ball on the left and was soon felled by right-back Nikolay Bodurov in the area.

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Kane duly stepped up and made no mistake from 12 yards. In the process, he drew level with England's World Cup hero from 1966.

With a brace to his credit, Kane next turned provider when he teed up Sterling to make it 3-0 10 minutes after the restart. The move again saw Manchester United forward Rashford put his pace and skill to good use on the flank before picking out Kane, who drove into the box and unselfishly played in Sterling when he might have sealed his hat-trick.

Sterling has refined his quality as a finisher to become one of City's most effective attackers. He's also experienced similar improvement at international level:

A comfortable lead prompted England boss Gareth Southgate to hand a senior international debut to Mason Mount. The Chelsea attacking midfielder came off the bench to replace Jordan Henderson and wasted little time showcasing his willingness to take on shots from distance, smashing one effort over the bar.

Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho was the next to enter the fray, replacing Sterling. The 19-year-old joined Mount, 20, to offer a glimpse of an exciting future for England.

Kane figures to be part of a successful present, though, and wrapped up his hat-trick with a second spot-kick after drawing a foul from Kristian Dimitrov.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was introduced to allow Kane to leave the pitch to cheers. The prolific front man had again underlined his value as the ruthless finisher who will punish teams the Three Lions are expected to beat.

It's a precious trait in a group Southgate's men should continue to dominate.


What's Next?

England host Kosovo on Tuesday, the same day Bulgaria face an away fixture against the Republic of Ireland.