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England are on the verge of World Cup qualification after a resounding 5-0 win over Albania with all five goals being scored in the first half.
Harry Maguire opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a firm header from Reece James's free-kick.
Nine minutes later, Harry Kane got the first goal of his hat-trick after heading home Jordan Henderson's cross from the right.
Just shy of the half hour mark, provider Henderson turned scorer as his give-and-go with Kane on the edge of the box allowed him to beat a defender and slot his finish into the bottom right corner.
Kane finished off his perfect three-piece in style with his second a fierce left-footed drive from a tight angle and his third a scissor kick directly from a corner just before half-time.
That win means England remain top of Group I on 23 points, but Poland's 4-1 win over 10-man Andorra means Gareth Southgate's men have not yet officially qualified for the World Cup.
With San Marino to play on Monday night, England will have to avoid defeat and hope Poland do not beat Hungary by six goals to confirm their place in Qatar.
Taking the plunge and playing first-team football in Europe can only benefit England’s next generation
(Photo: John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
November 12, 2021 at 5:09 PM EST
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November 12, 2021 at 4:43 PM EST
Despite a less eventful second half, England were thoroughly dominant throughout this game – keeping Albania at bay even when they dropped gears late on with the substitutions.
That resounding win means England remain top of Group I on 23 points, but Poland's 4-1 over 10-man Andorra mean Southgate's men are yet to officially qualify for the World Cup.
November 12, 2021 at 4:25 PM EST
77' – On come Emile Smith-Rowe (for his debut) and Trent Alexander-Arnold for Raheem Sterling and Reece James.
(Photo: Justin Setterfield – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)
November 12, 2021 at 4:15 PM EST
68' – Reece James and John Stones clash heads. Both players back on their feet but James appears to be worse off in the collision. Being checked for a possible concussion.
November 12, 2021 at 4:10 PM EST
63' – On come Tammy Abraham, Jude Bellingham and Jack Grealish for Harry Kane, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden respectively.
November 12, 2021 at 4:01 PM EST
55' – England, as you might expect being five goals up, are allowing Albania to have more of the ball in favour of sitting back in a mid-block and swiping possession when the opportunity arises.
With five defenders, that makes it harder for Albania to find a way through while allowing England's players to conserve energy to break at speed.
November 12, 2021 at 3:52 PM EST
England unchanged at the break.
Will they score five? Maybe six? Who knows?
November 12, 2021 at 3:47 PM EST
Five shots on target, five goals from England. An absolutely ruthless display on a night where they will have been keen to rectify their performance in the disappointing 1-1 draw against Hungary.
They've also enjoyed 72% possession and completed well over more than double Albania's passes (331 to 137). Utter dominance and you feel England are not done yet.
November 12, 2021 at 3:41 PM EST
Harry Kane scored his fourth hat-trick for England, putting the cherry on top of a five-star (and five goal) first-half performance by Southgate's men.
That takes Kane to 44 England goals, level with the late, great Jimmy Greaves and just nine away from Wayne Rooney's 53 at just 28 years of age.
Harry Kane vs Albania:
⚽ 18' Header
⚽ 33' Left foot
⚽ 45+1' Right foot
What a way to complete a perfect hat-trick before half-time ?
? @itvfootball pic.twitter.com/Eila48P3CV
November 12, 2021 at 3:27 PM EST
39' – England are certainly in the mood tonight.
Virtually very foray forward results either in the net bulging or a last-ditch Albanian intervention. With Smith-Rowe, Alexander-Arnold and Tammy Abraham on the bench, expect Southgate to draw for reinforcements if this dominance continues.
November 12, 2021 at 3:25 PM EST
33' – England are really strutting their stuff now. Sterling played Kane through in the box and the striker cut onto his right foot then back onto his left and fired a fierce shot past keeper Thomas Strakosha, who will be wondering when this night will end.
England have scored 41 goals in 2021 – their most ever in a calendar year since 1908 (@OptaJoe).#ENG 4-0 #ALB
? @itvfootball pic.twitter.com/qpyG9v1p7Z
November 12, 2021 at 3:20 PM EST
28' – England make it three just before the half hour mark.
Jordan Henderson (yes, Jordan Henderson) does a quick give-and-go with Harry Kane on the edge of the box, beat a defender and slotted his left-footed finish like he does that every week! You'd be forgiven for thinking that was Phil Foden!
Jordan Henderson ?
? @itvfootball pic.twitter.com/cF1RmZTudx
November 12, 2021 at 3:09 PM EST
18' – England double their lead after Jordan Henderson plays a one-two with Phil Foden on the right and floats a teasing cross into the box for Kane to head home from close range.
Lovely bit of interplay from Southgate's men.
Who said five at the back would be boring, eh?
November 12, 2021 at 2:59 PM EST
England are off and running against Albania after a well-worked free-kick routine. Reece James whipped a cross to the far post and Maguire was on hand to guide his header home. 10 minutes played.
November 12, 2021 at 2:45 PM EST
Kick-off just seconds away at Wembley.
A reminder that a draw would be enough to seal a top-two finish for England, while a win would see them finish top of Group I providing that Poland drop points against Andorra.
November 12, 2021 at 2:39 PM EST
No player has contributed more goals and assists combined for Chelsea this season than Reece James (four goals, four assists).
The high-flying right-back makes his first international start since the 4-0 win over Andorra back in September. With Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold working his way back into Southgate's plans, expect the Chelsea man make an impression tonight.
November 12, 2021 at 2:05 PM EST
The football may not have been pretty at times, but international football is a results-based business.
And the results so far have been decent under Steve Clarke – securing a first European Championship appearance for Scotland since 1996 and their first World Cup play-off since they last qualified two years later.
Does this vindicate Clarke? The Athletic's Kieran Devlin has his say after Scotland's win.
Scotland’s prolonged push for a World Cup place vindicates Steve Clarke’s methods
November 12, 2021 at 1:57 PM EST
It's full-time at the Zimbru Stadium and Scotland are 2-0 winners, sealing their place in the play-offs and finishing in the top two of a World Cup qualifying group for the first time since 1997!
1998 – Scotland are now guaranteed a play-off spot to qualify for next year’s World Cup, the first time they have finished in the top-two of a World Cup qualifying group since they finished second in qualification for the 1998 World Cup. Dream. pic.twitter.com/DoFP9dZic5
November 12, 2021 at 1:50 PM EST
After consulting VAR, referee Katrin Rafalski gave Moldova a penalty for a handball in the box.
Vadim Rata stepped up but Craig Gordon saved the spot kick and Kieran Tierney's last-ditch tackle prevented the midfielder from redeeming himself on the rebound.
Big let off for Scotland who are now a minute away from securing a play-off spot in Group F.
That Craig Gordon penalty save followed by Kieran Tierney's tackle ?#MDA 0-2 #SCO
? @SkyFootball pic.twitter.com/YIcwZpkonv
November 12, 2021 at 1:33 PM EST
Scotland lead 2-0 in Moldova after goals from Nathan Paterson and Che Adams have all but confirmed their place in the World Cup play-offs.
For more on how those play-offs work, have a read of Charlotte Harpur's explainer below!
Explained: UEFA’s World Cup qualifiers, the play-offs and could Ronaldo’s Portugal really miss out?
First goal in eight for Che Adams, doubling Scotland's lead…#MDA 0-2 #SCO
? @SkyFootball pic.twitter.com/I9yJo44TWQ