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Kane shows he’s able
Against an unfancied Bulgaria side, it was always going to be a question of how many goals England scored rather than if they netted.
The only real surprise was that it took until the 24th minute for the first goal to arrive, courtesy of captain, Harry Kane.
Tottenham’s centre-forward always leads by example on the international stage, and he worked hard again to ensure that the Three Lions eventually triumphed by a deserved 4-0 score line.
Two penalties sandwiched another England goal for Raheem Sterling, but it was his movement and work rate off the ball which will have caught the eye just as much as his scoring prowess.
Ably assisted by Sterling and Marcus Rashford, Kane gave a master class in hold-up play, working openings with his back to goal and always alive to the possibilities.
Gareth Southgate has spoken before about having demonstrable leaders in his side, and there are none finer than Kane at the present time.
Bale bails Wales out of trouble
He might be Real Madrid’s forgotten man, or at least he was until recently, but Gareth Bale remains the standard bearer for Wales.
The flying winger was involved in absolutely everything that his side did in an attacking sense against Azerbaijan, the hosts looking dangerous at every opportunity.
Whenever the ball came to the No.11, there were audible gasps from the crowd. Such is the expectancy when Bale gets on the ball for his country.
A slightly fortuitous opener came as a result of his crossfield ball, but an inability to build on the lead looked as though it might hurt the hosts when Mahir Emreli equalised just before the hour.
Fortunately, a goalmouth scramble six minutes from time saw the ball break to Bale, who rose highest to power home the match-winning header and hand Wales a reward for their tenacity and dominance.
Same old Scotland
No matter how hard they try, Scotland always seem to come up short.
Even with the likes of Andy Robertson, Scott McTominay and scorer, John McGinn, showcasing their skills, it wasn’t enough to beat a Russia team who’d set up to counter whenever the chance arose.
The visitors were happy to sit back and soak up the expected pressure, but it never came.
In fact, it was Russia who had more passes and possession than their hosts, and more total shots and shots on goal.
Whilst they’re certainly no pushovers, Scotland shouldn’t be ceding so much of the game to them, particularly in front of their own fans.
With this latest defeat, the Scots are now five points behind their opponents who are in second place in the Group I table, leaving themselves another mountain to climb in order to qualify.
Republic of Ireland steal a point against the Swiss
With the timing of a Swiss watch, David McGoldrick came up with the goods for the Republic to cancel out Fabian Schar’s opener and hand the hosts a point they barely deserved.
The visitors can feel incredibly hard done by after setting the rhythm for the match from the start and will be kicking themselves that Ireland were able to get anything at all from the game.
With 13 shots – treble the amount that Ireland managed – they should’ve had more than Schar’s effort to show for their dominance.
If anything, as the teams set up at kick-off, a five-man back line looked a little too defensive, but they were far more adventurous than expected.
Once ahead, with 16 minutes to play, the visitors should’ve shut up shop rather than look to kill the game off with a second.
It was their fearlessness in going forward which ultimately proved their undoing.
Ramos makes history for Spain
With his 29th minute penalty to open the scoring for Spain in their qualifier against Romania, Sergio Ramos made history.
It was the central defender’s 21st international goal for La Roja, drawing him level with Michel and placing him in the top ten of Spain’s all-time goalscorers.
Remarkably, it also meant he’d surpassed the likes of David Beckham, Carlos Tevez, Philippe Coutinho, Franck Ribery and Francesco Totti for international goals.
A divisive figure for many, there’s no way of downplaying Ramos’ contributions for his country.
Whenever he needs to stand and be counted, he does. You could count on the fingers of one hand the amount of occasions that the Real Madrid man hasn’t given 100 percent for the shirt.
His drive, will to win and desire are unsurpassed, and he showed once again what a great captain he is.
Despite a goal from Romania’s Florin Andone and a late red card for Diego Llorente, Paco Alcacer’s 47th minute goal proved to be the winner.