England vs Kosovo
European Qualifiers Group A
7:45pm Tuesday 10th September
St. Mary’s Stadium
A devastating first-half showing from England was sufficient to repel a courageous Kosovo 5-3 at a European Qualifier.
After falling behind to Valon Berisha, England responded scoring five goals in the opening 45 minutes with Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling causing havoc.
Sterling led home the equaliser (8) before Harry Kane (19) fired England in front. Sancho – starting in place of Marcus Rashford – exploded into the match before the break forcing Mergim Vojvoda and then helping himself to his first two global goals after a phenomenal drama from Sterling around the counter-attack.
Kosovo – unbeaten in their last 15 matches in all competitions – played bravely after half-time and were rewarded with goals in Berisha (49) and Vedat Muriqi (55).
Despite creating ample opportunities on the rest, England failed to add to their total with Kane missing in the penalty spot (65).
It was a really Jekyll-and-Hyde-like performance from Gareth Southgate’s men who were at times scintillating moving forwards but vulnerable against the Kosovan press.
This latest success means England are now unbeaten in qualification matches for championships in 10 years and have been with four wins.
In front of a bumper crowd at St Mary’s of the Football Association’s dedication England pooped the party setting, falling behind inside 35 seconds.
Ross Barkley pass has been intercepted which placed Michael Keane under pressure. Muriqi, who slid to score in Berisha nicked his sloppy pass. The purpose was the fastest scored in this effort that is European.
There was no panic from Southgate’s side that were flat. It was as greatest from a deep corner climbed to go back across goal for Sterling to flaunt his predatory instincts that are newfound in the six-yard box their artillery that proved decisive.
Sterling has eight goals in his past eight England games but that was his headed goal for his nation.
The Manchester City man let his feet do the talking to hands England the lead on 19 minutes feeding Kane and when dividing through the core of the Kosovan defence. Two bits later the ball was thumping the back of the net as England’s skipper fired home his goal moving him flat.
Sancho was using an unspectacular time down things the ideal flank but unleashed himself to the match 38 minutes to install England’s third. With Fidan Aliti Kosovo seemingly expecting England to kick out the ball and down injured, Sancho got the wing down skidding over that Mergim Vojvoda comically turned a very low cross and played the whistle.
There was still time before the fracture for England to catch two goals with a few devastating counter-attacking football against a naive Kosovo. Sterling was in the heart of the two.
Sterling picked the closing ball that was great to Sancho who stroked home from a tight angle. It was the exact identical mix that linked up again moments later. Sterling simmer for Sancho to tap home and overcome his mark down the left with a shift of pace.
Kosovo took advantage of a Rice pass as Berisha curly home his next, to draw it back to 5-2 and tried to play with an attacking mentality despite having blitzed on the counter.
That sparked excitement and about 55 minutes they netted again. Harry Maguire got himself into a pickle inside fouled Muriqi and the area, who slotted home from the place to give the visitors expect of a turnaround.
Kane had the opportunity to produce the final 20 minutes a nervy affair but has been refused from the penalty spot by Arijanet Muric – it was the initial missed penalty in his last 15 spot-kicks of Kane. Since Kosovo remained a danger, pushing against tons of numbers sterling hit the pole after through on goal but they could never really land a substantial glove on Southgate’s fascinating side.
If they confront trips to Bulgaria and Czech Republic england have another batch of back packs qualifying fittings to contend with next month.