• Thomas Barnes

Kane ends his England goal drought as the Three Lions see off Albania

Harry Kane and Mason Mount were on target as England continued their 100% start to life in Group I.

After beginning their World Cup Qualifiers against San Marino with a fairly routine victory on Wednesday night, England travelled to Albania for what would be a step up in class – in terms of the opponent.

In the opening stages, England knew it wasn’t going to be a simple as their encounter against San Marino, with Albania willing to press England intensely, to prevent them getting a foothold in the game.

However, the first chance did come to Southgate’s men as a wicked corner from Phil Foden found his Man City companion John Stones who headed over the bar.

England had their first warning sign moments after as a cheap ball from Mount provided Albania a chance to counterattack with numbers. The host’s capitalised on Mount’s mistake as a blistering attacking ended with Mryto Uzuni blazing over with only Pope to beat.

England were finding it difficult to break down a stubborn Albania side and were limited to very few chances in the first half an hour. But Harry Kane had a chance to put England ahead with a free kick on the edge of the box, but the captain wasted the opportunity as he fired against Harry Maguire.

England’s best chance of the first 30 mins emphasised their struggles to break down Albania as a long-range strike from Kyle Walker that Albania Goalkeeper Berisha comfortably gathered.

One thing England hadn’t done in the first half was give anything for Harry Kane to feed on in the box. That changed in the 37th minute as Luke Shaw, as he’s been doing all season, looped a wonderful cross into the box in which Kane glanced his header into the bottom corner.

England then played the rest of the first half with a spring in their step. Another great cross from the left, this time from sterling, meets Kane again but he saw his shot cannon off the crossbar.

A bright start from England at the beginning of the second half nearly saw the visitors double their lead. Positive play from Sterling ended with him finding Foden in the box whose low driven shot required Berisha to push the ball onto the post.

England continued to pressurise Albania and another corner from Foden caused problems, with Kane unable to keep his effort down in the six-yard box.

England’s second half high press was rewarded with Sterling making the most of a stray pass from Djimsiti and putting the ball on a plate for Mason Mount to beautifully caress the ball over the onrushing goalkeeper.

Sterling had one last chance to make it three. He got round Berisha in the box, but the goalkeeper did well to guide him away from goal to prevent any danger.

Southgate’s thoughts

"We could have made the game more comfortable," he added. "We had two or three counter-attacks where there were good opportunities, where with the right pass we could have put people in for a straightforward finish.

"It was the final pass in the main that let us down in those instances. But we're constantly reviewing the games, constantly looking to improve and the players will make most of those opportunities in the future.

"There was a lot of good things, but we have to keep pushing this group of players. There's a lot of talk about us, a lot of talk about what we potentially might be but if we want to deliver then we have to have really high standards.

What Next?

England now turn their attention to Poland who come to Wembley on Wednesday for the third game of the World Cup Qualifiers.

Written by Thomas Barnes