England 4, Kosovo 0
England confirmed a table topping finish in their Euro 2020 qualification campaign with a very flattering 4-0 win against Kosovo thanks to Harry Winks, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Mason Mount.
With Euro 2020 qualification already settled, England required just a point to finish top of Group A on a wet night in Kosovo and they ground out the result while surviving a few wobbly moments at the back.
The win wasn’t assured until a three goal salvo in the last 11 minutes on a night where England players looked wary of the slippery pitch in Pristina.
England have sailed through 8 matches with 37 goals – 12 of them bagged by Kane – 3 more than they have scored in any other qualifying campaign.
And they will be one of six top seeds in the draw in Romania next month.
Joe Gomez was ruled out with a training injury while Jordan Henderson was out with illness.
City winger Raheem Sterling was restored to the starting line-up and was one of five changes to the side that thrashed Montenegro at Wembley.
Sterling was joined in the team by Nick Pope, Tyrone Mings, Declan Rice, and Callum Hudson-Odoi.
Stepping down were Jordan Pickford, John Stones, Mason Mount, Marcus Rashford, and Jason Sancho.
Pope was making his full England debut (after one substitute appearance by and was involved early as he held on to a looping header by big Sheffield Wednesday striker Atdhe Nuhiu.
Sterling was denied by Aro Muric after Ben Chilwell’s cross was helped on by Harry Kane and Hudson-Odoi.
But England opened the scoring with Harry Winks stroking the ball home for his first international goal after being put through by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and touching the ball through a space in the Kosovo defence.
England were not as assured defensively though and Amir Rrahmani went close three times as they struggled under the aerial threat presented by the home side.
Kosovo’s defence hadn’t had too many alarms although Hudson-Odoi’s poor passing in the final third was letting England down.
Amir Rrahmani thwarts England until last 11 minutes
Rrahmani was having a great game and also nicked the ball off Sterling as he shaped to shoot in the second half.
Huddersfield Town’s Florent Hadergjonaj was released by a great pass from substitute Besar Halimi as Kosovo broke but he shot too soon and his tame effort was collected by Pope.
Kosovo were making inroads into the England defence with Milot Rashica running onto a forward pass by Halimi but Pickford’s blushes were spared after his slipped when Declan Rice’s covering tackle ensured that Rashica couldn’t lift the ball over the England keeper.
Kane finally gave England the 2 goal lead with 11 minutes to go with his 12th goal in 8 qualifying matches after volleying home the looping ball after Sterling’s cross took a deflection off Fidan Aliti.
He was the first England player to score in every match of a qualifying campaign having scored 12 times in this calendar year for the national team for the Euro 2020 tournament.
And his 32nd goal in 45 internationals makes underlined how effective his campaign has been.
With the pressure off Sterling found Rashford whose first time side footed shot went past Muric with 7 minutes to go – his 10th goal for England.
Fikayo Tomori was immediately given his debut, slotting in at right back for Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Both teams were playing out time when Mason Mount scored England’s fourth and final goal on the night in injury time after a slip by Ibrahim Dresevic allowed Kane to put the Chelsea midfielder in for his first senior England goal.
MATCH STATS – England 4, Kosovo 0
Kosovo: Muric, Vojvoda, Rrahmani, Aliti, Kololli, Dresevic, Hadergjonaj (Zhegrova 73), Celina, Berisha (Halimi 65), Rashica, Nuhiu (Rashani 82)
Kosovo Subs not used: Ujkani, Voca, Shala, Rashkaj, Muslija, Bakaj, Hasani, Paqarada, Xhemajli
England: Pope, Alexander-Arnold (Tomori 83), Maguire, Mings, Chilwell, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Mount 73), Rice, Winks, Sterling, Hudson-Odoi (Rashford 59), Kane
England Subs not used: Pickford, Trippier, Rose, Stones, Maddison, Sancho, Callum Wilson, Abraham, Henderson
Goals: Winks 32, Kane 79, Rashford 83, Mount 90+1
Referee: Pawel Gil