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Harry Kane scored 12 goals for England in 2021
After beating Albania at Wembley, England needs only one point in their last qualifier in San Marino in order to be confirmed at the 2022 World Cup Qatar.
Harry Kane was the star of the romp, scoring a hat-trick in the first half. England defeated an Albanian side that had been expected to be tough after a respectable qualifying campaign.
England led by five goals and were out of sight at half-time. Harry Maguire set them on their path with a ninth minute header from Reece James’ free-kick. Kane added a second goal quickly from Jordan Henderson's cross.
After a quick exchange with Kane, Henderson scored the third. England's captain added two more shots before the break with an angle shot and a spectacular scissors kick from Phil Foden.
Kane is now at the same level as Jimmy Greaves in England's 44 goals. He has also scored 39 goals for England, breaking Wayne Rooney’s record of 37.
Southgate's system pays dividends
Gareth Southgate's decision not to use Henderson and Kalvin Phillips as holding midfielders raised eyebrows, but it was the same system that they used in their win over Germany in Euro 2020 and in the final against Italy. It worked well and positively.
Southgate was determined for England to be on the front foot. He used James and Ben Chilwell to attack wing-backs, with Henderson showing a willingness to move forward.
After a tense opening and a scare when Jordan Pickford was forced to save Myrto Uzuni's goalkeeper, Kyle Walker's ball at 1-0 fell into Jordan Pickford's hands, England dominated Albania with wave upon wave of attacks.
After that moment of panic passed, it was all one-way traffic. England had complete control and the Albanians were being dragged behind them.
Kane looked back to his best with three goals and could have easily doubled that total. Raheem sterling also looked sharp as England scored all of their goals in the first 45 minutes.
Maguire celebrated his goal by putting his fingers in his ears. This may have been a celebration directed at critics of Manchester United's recent performances - though it will take more than just a goal against Albania for the past humbling Old Trafford defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City to be forgotten.
Southgate's dominance in England allowed him to make a debut to Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe, as the game ended with a low-key finish.
It was a comfortable night in England's favor against mediocre opposition, but Albania performed well in this group. Southgate and his players should be commended for their positive approach and the ruthless way in which they accomplished this task.
This group has always been favourable to England. England now only needs to complete the formalities against San Marino Monday before they can start serious preparations for Qatar next Year.
"We've had an advantage all week" - that's what they said
Gareth Southgate, England boss, said to BBC Radio 5 Live: "The first half performance in the main wasn't bad."
"I felt that we accomplished all of the things we had discussed after the last game. Our movement was excellent and we pressed very well, making it so difficult for the opposition. Harry [Kane] performed a great centre-forward's job.
"A team can be at its best when they have an edge, and I felt that we had one all week. We were determined to react to an unusually poor performance. We were very clear about identifying the reasons. All the players responded very well to this.
"We are now in a very good position and owe it now to our supporters to travel San Marino to finish the group off."
Henderson Jordan Henderson was the player of the match with a 7.55 England England England average
Albania Albania England Avg Squad Number 8 Player Name Henderson Average Rating 7.55 Squad Number 9 Player Name Kane Average Rating 6.46 Squad Number 13 Player Name Alexander-Arnold Player rating 6.09 Squad No. 14 Player named Chilwell Player rating 6.09 Squad no. 17 Player number Trashi Average Rating 4.57 Squad numbers 16 Player number Trashi Player rating.4.57 Squad rating 23 Player number Uzuni Player rating.4.57 Squad rating 20 Player number Strakosha Average ranking 4.57 Squad rating 15 Player number Kumbulla Squad name Player number 7 Average rating of 7.40 Squad 7 Average rating: 7.40 Squad 7 Player Bare rating.40 Squad 7 Player number 7 Average rating.40 Squad rating.40 Squad 7 Player number 7 Squad rating.40 Squad rating.42 Squad numbers 7 Player bare