England vs Kosovo
European Qualifiers Group A
7:45pm Tuesday 10th September
St. Mary’s Stadium
A revealing from England was enough to repel a brave Kosovo 5-3 in a pulsating European Qualifier.
After falling behind to Valon Berisha, England responded scoring five goals in the opening 45 minutes with Raheem Sterling and Jadon Sancho causing havoc.
Sterling headed home the equaliser (8) until Harry Kane (19) fired England in front. Sancho – starting set of Marcus Rashford – burst into the match helping himself after some phenomenal drama from Sterling over the counter-attack to his initial two international goals then just before the break forcing Mergim Vojvoda into an own goal.
Kosovo – unbeaten in their last 15 matches in all competitions – performed bravely after half-time and have been rewarded with goals from Berisha (49) along with also Vedat Muriqi (55).
Despite creating ample chances on the rest, England didn’t add to their total with Kane missing in the penalty spot (65).
It was a performance from the men of Gareth Southgate who were sometimes scintillating going forwards but defensively vulnerable from the Kosovan press.
This latest victory means England are currently unbeaten in qualification matches for tournaments in a decade and are in command of Group A with four wins.
In front of a bumper crowd at St Mary’s of the Football Association’s dedication England pooped the celebration setting, falling behind, incredibly, inside 35 minutes.
Ross Barkley’s blind pass was almost intercepted which place Michael Keane. Muriqi, who slid to score in Berisha nicked his cluttered overhaul. The aim was the quickest scored within this European qualifying campaign.
There was no panic from the side of Southgate who were level seven minutes later. It was their set-piece artillery that was decisive as Keane rose greatest from a deep corner to go back across goal for Sterling to showcase his newfound predatory instincts within the box.
Sterling now has eight goals in his past eight England matches but this was his first headed goal for his nation.
The Manchester City man let his feet do the talking into hand the lead on 19 minutes feeding Kane and after dividing the heart of the Kosovan defence to England. The ball had been beating the back of the net because the skipper of England fired home his 26th goal for his country, moving him flat by Bryan Robson.
Sancho was having an unspectacular time down things the right flank but unleashed himself to set up the third of England . Together with Fidan Aliti Kosovo expecting England to kick out the ball and down wounded, Sancho got the wing down skidding over that Mergim Vojvoda comically turned home a cross and played to the whistle.
Until the break for England to catch two goals with some catastrophic football against a naive 23, there was still time. Unsurprisingly, Sterling was at the heart of the two.
Sterling chose at the final chunk to Sancho who stroked home from a tight angle. It was the same mix that linked up minutes later. Sterling overcome his marker with a shift of pace down the left and centred to tap home from close variety.
Despite getting blitzed on the counter tops, Kosovo tried to play an attacking attitude and reap the benefits of a Rice pass to draw it back to 5-2 as Berisha curled his second.
That sparked further excitement and on 55 minutes they netted again. Harry Maguire got himself into a pickle inside fouled Muriqi and the region, who slotted home to give hope of a remarkable turnaround to the visitors.
Arijanet Muric had the opportunity to create the last 20 minutes a less nervy affair but denyed from the penalty spot kane – it was Kane’s initial penalty in his 15 spot-kicks. Since Kosovo remained a danger, pushing against loads of numbers sterling then hit the post when through on goal but they might never land a glove on Southgate’s fascinating side.
England have yet another batch of semi automatic qualifying fixtures if they face excursions to Bulgaria and Czech Republic.
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