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Quick-fire Kane steals the show with dream debut

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Harry Kane celebrates after scoring England's fourth goal in the qualifier win over Lithuania at Wembley. Photo: Reuters / Eddie Keogh

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring England's fourth goal in the qualifier win over Lithuania at Wembley. Photo: Reuters / Eddie Keogh

REUTERS

Harry Kane celebrates after scoring England's fourth goal in the qualifier win over Lithuania at Wembley. Photo: Reuters / Eddie Keogh

The only surprise was that it was his second touch of the game and not his first, but either way Harry Kane's first goal for England was perfectly in keeping with the remarkable story of the boy from Chingford who has a habit of confounding expectations.

This was the box-office introduction to life as an international footballer that England might optimistically have imagined for Kane at the beginning of the night and, as usual, he lived up to it.

Given that he already has 19 Premier League goals this season and was up against the 94th-ranked team in the world, perhaps his debut goal was not that surprising but the point is broader than that: it is that Kane keeps taking his chances.

Float a back-post cross in his direction 78 seconds into his England debut, against a tiring but determined Baltic state, and you can be sure of one thing: Kane will be ready.

To borrow the phrase from the modern lexicon, he seems to have been born ready; a man permanently in the right frame of mind to take life by the lapels and last night was no different.

Sure, England were already 3-0 up and coasting to their seventh straight victory after the summer's World Cup finals.

They would have won whether or not Kane had directed his downward header past the goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis, but for a goalscorer it is the taking of the chance that matters.

On the night that Wayne Rooney went to 47 goals, and within two of Bobby Charlton's record, so Kane started his pursuit of Rooney.

This was Kane's night, even if he played just a small part of it. However, the stand-out player of the game was Danny Welbeck - the man whose place is under greatest threat from the Spurs man.

Spaces

Welbeck's strong running and ability to open up the spaces behind a determined but limited defence is invaluable on nights like these.

Welbeck's power and running down the right, and the liveliness of Fabian Delph in midfield, caught Lithuania cold and they were a goal behind within seven minutes.

Welbeck, cutting in from the right, had a shot and, when the ball popped up off the goalkeeper, it was the England captain who headed it in.

The goal had been a good move, encompassing Michael Carrick and Raheem Sterling before Welbeck embarked on his run and, in those early stages, England looked liberated from the usual cautiousness.

Nevertheless, Lithuania were prepared to run and shut down their opponents and, while at times their tackling will have caused a shudder at certain Premier League clubs, it was effective.

On 44 minutes, England caught out Lithuania with their second short corner. The ball was worked to Jordan Henderson and his driven cross was headed by Welbeck, clipped captain Tadas Kijanskas and went in.

The second goal reduced the resolve in Lithuania and England's start to the second half was an assortment of chances that really should have been buried.

Finally, Sterling scored his first England goal, running to the near post to meet Rooney's ball from the right.

But that was only the warm-up act to the main event of the night. Kane finally rose from his seat to replace Rooney on 71 minutes.

His first touches were to control the ball, then lay it off. He then moved to the far post as Sterling jinked in from the left, lifting the ball across for the unmarked Kane to open his England account with an easy header.

The Spurs forward ran away, looking to the skies, arms outstretched, before sliding towards the corner flag. It had taken him only 80 seconds to score.

Another small challenge accomplished for the man of the moment.

Sadly, the night ended on a worrying note for Liverpool as Sterling needed to be carried off on a stretcher after hurting a foot while challenging for the ball. (© Independent News Service)

Independent News Service