Wednesday 20 June 2018

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Kane to the rescue again as England produce yet another dreary display

Lithuania 0 England 1

Lithaunia's Fedor Cernych (left) and England's Dele Alli battle for the ball during their World Cup Qualifying match in Vilnius. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA
Lithaunia's Fedor Cernych (left) and England's Dele Alli battle for the ball during their World Cup Qualifying match in Vilnius. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA

Jason Burt in Vilnius

Supporters walking out in Malta, paper airplanes at Wembley and, here, an ironic chant of "it's just like watching Brazil".

England will be playing in next summer's World Cup finals and finished their qualification campaign with another victory, but this was all about the performance and not the points.

And in that England were not winners. They have to, they just have to, play better than this. It is, quite frankly, boring.

If Lithuania had Harry Kane, they would have won. It was that damning for England.

England’s Harry Kane scored the winner from the penalty spot during thethe match in Vilnius. Photo: Ints Kalnins/Reuters
England’s Harry Kane scored the winner from the penalty spot during thethe match in Vilnius. Photo: Ints Kalnins/Reuters

One thing is for certain, though, and that is that Kane is not weighed down by the England captaincy. Four times the striker has led his country and each time he has scored, becoming the first England player ever to do so.

Kane scored the winner with a 27th-minute penalty after Dele Alli had been taken down. It was his seventh goal in six internationals, and his 12th for his country in 23 appearances. That is some form.

But then we always knew that Kane is not the problem. The heaviness of the England shirt, the fear of playing for the Three Lions, the lack of big players - as manager Gareth Southgate said - and the dearth of talent available. They are the issues.

Harry Winks made his debut, along with Harry Maguire as Southgate made seven changes, and is certainly worth persevering with.

But others need to take a hard look at themselves, and not least the man alongside Winks in central midfield, Jordan Henderson, who was poor.

This was the youngest England team to take to the pitch for 15 years - average age 23.7 years - and there is a sliver of mitigation in that.

This team is young and relatively inexperienced, with 120 caps between them before kick-off - only one more than Wayne Rooney. But that does not excuse some of the poor play.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Telegraph.co.uk

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