England’s dominant performance over-shadowed the controversy surrounding them in the stands of the Vasil Levski Stadium this evening with a 0-6 win over Bulgaria.
England looked up for the game right from the start when a mere four minutes in, Jordan Henderson found himself booked for a sinister foul Despodov; ruling himself out of the game against Montenegro next month.
In the 7th minute of the game, Marcus Rashford found himself with space to cut inside, connecting with a rasping drive that flew into the roof of the net and grasping the Three Lions early control of the game.
From there on in, it was pretty much plain sailing for England with Jordan Pickford only facing two shots on target for the entirety of the match.
Then, a quick-fire one-two between Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane resulted in Ross Barkley tapping home from 2 yards to put England two goals to the good inside 20 minutes.
Possession showed hardly any variation throughout the match with England proving to be untouchable for the majority.
What followed can only be described as ludicrous. The 27th minute saw stoppage in play to address ‘racist chanting’ coming from the stands of Bulgaria, which was clearly heard by both players and officials. Step One of the procedure was now put into play by UEFA Officials with the PA making an announcement for it to stop.
Shortly after, Ross Barkley grabbed his second and England’s third poking it in at the back-post ahead of Raheem Sterling from a Harry Kane cross.
In the 42nd minute play was stopped again to enforce Step Two of the procedure after ‘Clear Moneky Chants’ were heard by both players and Gareth Southgate who reported it to the fourth official. Bulgaria’s captain was forced to appeal to his own fans for the abuse to stop.
Despite the off-field issues, England remained ruthless with Raheem Sterling adding a fourth in added time; sending England into the break with a comfortable 0-4 lead.
The restart only resumed the relentlessness of England’s powerful attack as Sterling stole the show with the 5th goal of the night to make it 0-5 in the 69th. Bulgaria struggled to cope and showed no real flare or creativity at all during the second period.
The 80th minute saw Harry Kane narrowly denied by the post, yet he made no mistake two minutes later with a cool finish after bearing down on goal to make it 0-6.
Here is how we rated England’s players…
Jordan Pickford: 6
Pickford had very little to do throughout the game. His kicking was good, as per usual.
Kieran Trippier: 6
Solid performance from the Atletico right-back. He did a job down the right-hand side during the game.
Harry Maguire: 6
Did what he needed to do at the back. Comfortable in possession of the ball when bringing it out from defence.
Tyrone Mings: 8
Despite being the subject of racial abuse throughout the game, Mings was excellent on his England debut. Although he may remember it for all the wrong reasons, there were plenty of positives for the Villa man.
Ben Chilwell: 7
Chilwell impressed down the left with his constant attacking runs. He was superb and showed why he should be England’s number three.
Jordan Henderson: 7
Henderson anchored the midfield and kept play ticking throughout. His passing was crisp, as ever.
Harry Winks: 6
Not the worst display from Winks, but not the best either. He was average in midfield, although he did recycle the ball well.
Ross Barkley: 7
Scored twice from midfield, as he looked to prove that he deserves to start for his country. The Chelsea man looked sharp all night.
Raheem Sterling: 7
Sterling got his goals and produced another superb performance in an England shirt. The Manchester City forward is in the form of his life at the moment.
Harry Kane: 6
Kane may be frustrated to have only scored one in a six-goal win, but he did have a decent game up front. He took his goal very well, leading the side with the armband again.
Marcus Rashford: 7
Scored his first goal from open play for England in almost a year, and what a goal it was. Hopefully he can use this as a confidence booster heading into the European Championships next summer.