Southgate hails ‘phenomenal’ England man; talks up full Smith Rowe debut

Gareth Southgate England v San Marino

Gareth Southgate hailed ‘phenomenal’ England skipper Harry Kane as the Three Lions booked their place at the Qatar World Cup following a 1-0 win over San Marino.

England hit double figures for the first time since 1964 as they secured qualification for Qatar with embarrassing ease in San Marino. Harry Kane also racked up the records by scoring four in the first half to go level with Gary Lineker on 48 England goals.

The Tottenham striker also set a new high of 13 for his country in a calendar year. He followed up his hat-trick in the 5-0 win against Albania with yet another treble.

Kane became only the fourth player to score a hat-trick in consecutive England games after Vivian Woodward, Dixie Dean and Tommy Taylor, and the first to score four since Ian Wright, also against San Marino in 1993.

Harry Maguire’s early header set England on their way and Bukayo Saka’s shot was deflected in off Filippo Fabri before Kane took over with two penalties and a couple of trademark finishes in the area.

England continued to punish San Marino after the break with Emile Smith Rowe and Tyrone Mings scoring their first international goals with a crisp finish and flicked header respectively.

The rout continued with goals from substitute Tammy Abraham and Saka as England hit 10 for the first time since they beat USA 10-0 in New York City in May 1964, and the first time ever in a competitive fixture.

Speaking after the game, Southgate told ITV Sport: “The qualification was earned away in Budapest, Warsaw and Albania. I have to credit all our players and staff for a very good year. We cannot do anything about the level of opposition but the mentality and the way they applied themselves was terrific.

On Kane’s four-goal display, he added: “If we left him on another half an hour, we would have had Wayne Rooney’s family on the phone. He is a phenomenal goalscorer, we wanted to give him the chance tonight and he took it well.”

Southgate also had praise for Smith Rowe, adding: “I thought Emile has given a good account all week. His tight control is exceptional and he has to continue what he is doing. We finished with a young side tonight.”

Kane goes level with Lineker

After the game Kane, speaking to ITV Sport, said: “Fantastic. It came to the last game and we were expected to win tonight but we’ve done a good job. Fantastic to go through.”

On going level with Lineker on 48 goals for England, he added: “Fantastic again. Every time I wear an England shirt I am proud. When I score goals it is one of the nicest feelings I can have in my career. Nice to be among those names.

“We still need to keep working. I feel like we have been improving year on year. We have to make the most of the time, every training session to fine-tune the little pieces.”

REPORT: Records tumble as 10-goal England qualify for World Cup