Captain Harry Kane helped himself to a hat-trick as England sealed qualification for next summer’s European Championship with an emphatic 7-0 win over Montenegro at Wembley.
In what was their 1000th international game, England celebrated in style, putting on something of a show for the 77,277 in attendance, including former legends and heroes of the team.
The scoreline also provided a welcome distraction from the drama involving Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez that overshadowed preparations for the game.
Goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marcus Rashford, an own goal from Aleksandar Sofranac, and a first senior goal for Tammy Abraham in addition to Kane’s haul mean that Gareth Southgate can start making plans for next summer.
With an average age of just 23 years and 255 days, the manager was able to name the youngest ever Three Lions starting line-up in a World Cup or European Championships match - finals and qualifiers included.
The youngsters set their stall out early and didn’t have to wait too long to get off the mark.
Just ten minutes in, Ben Chilwell’s flighted ball picked out Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right side of the penalty area and the Liverpool man drilled across Milan Mijatovic into the far corner to open the scoring.
The Reds forward who has struggled with injury over the years would have been pleased to get back amongst the goals for his country, with his last one coming way back in June 2017 against Scotland at Hampden.
England doubled their lead on 18 minutes when Chilwell’s free kick from the left picked out Kane in the box to simply nod the ball beyond Mijatovic for his 29th goal for his country.
Soon, 29 became 30 as just five minutes later, the Spurs striker found himself unmarked from an outswinging corner on the left to home - Chilwell completing a hat-trick of assists in the process.
Montenegro surprisingly almost came up with an instant response through Marko Simic, but his header was superbly saved by Jordan Pickford and in a matter of moments, normal service was swiftly resumed.
Rashford was quickest to react to Harry Maguire’s parried header, calmly turning two defenders in the area before placing his shot beyond the unfortunate Mijatovic for 4-0 with just half an hour on the clock.
The Manchester United star continued his fine recent form for club and country, netting his eighth goal in his last nine games.
Five minutes later, England had a fifth and Kane had his hat-trick, turning a finishing brilliantly from Alexander-Arnold’s deflected cross.
In bagging this latest treble, the captain became the first player to score a hat-trick in back-to-back matches at Wembley for the Three Lions following his haul against Bulgaria last time out.
To their credit, despite the game starting to run away from them, the visitors still managed to mount a rare attack before half time as Fatos Beqiraj managed to get away from Maguire and John Stones but was unable to beat Pickford one-on-one.
With the damage done, there was understandably a drop in intensity in the second half.
Mason Mount thought he had added a sixth goal but his tap-in from Kane’s saved effort was ruled out after the Chelsea man was flagged offside.
With the game won, Kane was withdrawn and would have to settle for just the three goals to show for his night’s work.
The England captain’s impressive showing now leaves him in sixth place on the all-time top scorers chart for his country.
A sixth eventually did arrive after Rashford’s run and cross bounced around the box before eventually being put through his own net by the unlucky Sofranac.
With five minutes to go, substitute Tammy Abraham turned in Sacho’s cross for his first senior goal for England to make it seven - the most they’ve scored in a home match since an 8-0 win against Turkey in October 1987.
Southgate’s side now face Kosovo in Pristina in their final group game but with safe passage to the Euros confirmed, the manager can go into that match without too much to worry about.
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