Late goals to the rescue as England scrape past Malta
England stuttered to a 4-0 win over Malta to move four points clear at the top of Group F in Europe’s World Cup qualifiers. The Three Lions needed three goals in the last five minutes to put an undeserved shine on a poor England performance.
Harry Kane finished from close range in the second half before Ryan Bertrand sealed the victory with a long-ranger five minutes from time. Danny Welbeck came off the bench to volley in England’s third in stoppage time and Kane struck again to make it four.
Andrew Hogg was a busy goalkeeper all night and denied Kane after just four minutes.
Dele Alli then struck over the bar as Malta’s defence held firm.
England did finally have the ball in the net after 23 minutes when Phil Jones headed in a Jordan Henderson corner but there was a foul on the keeper and the goal was ruled out.
New Liverpool signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain then threatened before the break but shot wide when Kane and Alli were lurking in the box.
Malta nearly took a shock lead just after the break when Apollon Limassol striker Andre Schembri’s volley went just wide.
England’s breakthrough finally came in the 52nd minute. The ball fell to Alli inside the area who kept the ball with some good close control before playing in Kane to finish from eight yards.
Kane could have doubled the lead but his shot was saved by Hogg. England maintained possession in the closing stages but barely threatened the Malta goal.
Bertrand made the scoreline a bit more respectable just before the end when his strike from 30 yards hit the back of the net.
Welbeck then added another in stoppage time when he volleyed home and Kane completed the scoring a minute later when he was put through by Marcus Rashford to give England an extremely flattering four-goal victory.