3:46 England booked their place at Euro 2020 with a 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro
Kane’s first two goals at Wembley were headers from Ben Chilwell deliveries, but it was his third which showed the deadly finishing ability that makes him such a special striker. Having killed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deflected cross, he swivelled and fired a diagonal finish into the corner.
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Kane might have fancied his chances of adding to his total in the second half, but his early withdrawal for Tammy Abraham allowed him a well-deserved rest. He will get plenty more chances in the months and years ahead. «He’s an incredible goalscorer,» said Gareth Southgate afterwards. «When the opportunities are there, he’s absolutely ruthless.»
Oxlade-Chamberlain seizes his chance
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was viewed by Southgate as a guaranteed England starter before the knee injury which ruled him out of the World Cup last year. On the evidence of his return to the side against Montenegro, it might not be long until he is seen in the same way again.
The midfielder came into this game on the back of a run of four goals in five games for Liverpool and his fine form continued with another goalscoring performance at Wembley. This was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first international appearance since March 2018. Eighteen months on, however, and he looked right at home from the start.
His opener arrived in the 11th minute, when he calmly controlled Ben Chilwell’s diagonal pass, composed himself, then crashed a low shot past Montenegro goalkeeper Milan Mijatovic. It was the clinical finish of a player eager to prove a point. It was also his first international goal since 2017.
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Oxlade-Chamberlain had plenty of other bright attacking moments before being replaced by James Maddison early in the second half, but it was his off-the-ball work which best illustrated why he is so highly valued by Southgate. On more than one occasion in the first half, his pressing forced turnovers, allowing England to keep piling on the pressure.
His return to the side is good news for Southgate and so too is his return to form. Oxlade-Chamberlain is perfectly suited to the kind of high-intensity football Southgate advocates and, crucially, he also provides the kind of creativity and goal threat England’s midfield sometimes lacks. This could be his first step to earning a starting spot at Euro 2020.
Maddison’s task is harder now
There had been a clamour for Maddison to be given a chance in England’s midfield ahead of this game, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s inclusion alongside Mason Mount and Harry Winks meant he had to settle for a debut from the bench, eventually making his way onto the pitch in the 56th minute.
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The 22-year-old has shone for Leicester this season, picking up where he left off following an impressive 2018/19 campaign, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to the fold means he is now facing an even tougher task to earn a starting spot. Southgate can also call on Declan Rice, an unused substitute at Wembley, as well as Ross Barkley and Jordan Henderson.
Maddison was clearly eager to impress when he did get his chance, but — understandably, perhaps, given he is still a newcomer at international level — there were some signs of nerves in his performance.
On the hour-mark, he misplaced two attempted through-balls in quick succession. Not long after that, he could be seen turning into trouble in midfield. His passing accuracy rate of 68 per cent was the lowest of any England player and he lost possession more times than Mount despite playing half the number of minutes.
Maddison will hope for another chance to impress when England face Kosovo on Sunday, but he might need to do more than he managed at Wembley. He already has his work cut out to force his way into the team.