England survived an early scare to beat Kosovo 5-3 at St. Mary’s in a breathless encounter to continue their perfect start to Euro 2020 qualifying.
Kosovo stunned the hosts early by taking the lead after a poor pass from Ross Barkley back to Micheal Keane put the defender under pressure.
He gifted the ball to Vedat Muriqi, followed by a composed finish from winger Valon Berisha.
It didn’t take England long to reply, however, as a good corner from Barkley and then a nod across the box from Keane found Raheem Sterling who headed home.
The hosts found the lead after Sterling’s pace was too much to handle for Kosovo’s defence, turning from the halfway line and running to the box at ease before playing Kane through to finish well.
Defender Mergim Vojvoda couldn’t adjust his feet quick enough to move out the way of a Jadon Sancho cross and sent the ball into his own net for England’s third.
England’s fourth and fifth were almost identical. Sterling on the fast-break finding Sancho on both occasions to give England a comfortable lead going into half-time.
In the second-half Kosovo showed signs of a comeback. First managing to get a goal back after Declan Rice played a terrible pass to give the ball away – Berisha again showed excellent composure to finish.
Then another goal as a poor challenge from Harry Maguire gave the visitors a penalty, which was coolly dispatched by Muriqi.
Here is how we rated the England players:
Jordan Pickford - 6
Pickford should have done better with the penalty, getting two hands to the shot but unable to divert it from his net.
Trent Alexander-Arnold - 8
Alexander-Arnold did well at the back and put in some quality crosses throughout.
Michael Keane - 7
Even though he was under pressure, Keane didn’t do himself any favours with an awful pass to give the ball away on the edge of his own box leading to the opener. He did well to head across to Sterling for England’s equaliser.
Harry Maguire - 7
Maguire was cool on the ball and did a great job defensively. However, it was poor challenge and clear penalty which gave the opponents some hope of a comeback.
Ben Chilwell - 7
Chilwell had a few nice runs forward, weaving his way through defenders, although his final ball was once again an issue.
Declan Rice - 8
Rice made some good tackles in midfield, giving his side possession back in a great position for a quick attack. Needlessly giving the ball away for Kosovo’s second was a poor mistake in an otherwise excellent performance.
Jordan Henderson - 7
Henderson did his job well. However, England’s attack moved at such a pace that play seemed to miss him in transition.
Ross Barkley - 7
Barkley showed some good flashes on the ball, but was loose in possession on a few occasions. It was his poor ball initially that cost England the opening goal.
Jadon Sancho - 9
Sancho looked a threat whenever his picked up the ball, with his pace and quick feet proving to be an issue for Kosovo’s defence. He was composed with his chances and took them well.
Harry Kane - 8
Kane took his chance well and also did a good job in dropping back to win possession and pick out some nice passes. Although, his penalty was poor.
Raheem Sterling - 10
Sterling’s immense pace was a problem all night for his opponents. Blitzing past defenders with ease, Sterling looked unstoppable at times. With four goal involvements, scoring one and assisting three, the Manchester City man was the man of the match.
Subs: Mason Mount - N/A
Was a late substitute.
Subs: Marcus Rashford - N/A
Was a late substitute.