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Gareth Southgate Singles Out One Man For Praise After Easy Win In Malta

England stayed on course for qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but they were far from impressive in their comfortable win in Valletta.

In the aftermath of the 4-0 victory over Malta, manager Gareth Southgate, has paid homage to Harry Kane.

Recognising that while England have excellent options on the bench, Southgate has highlighted how important Kane’s role is.

“The bench in the modern game is crucial because the last 15-20 minutes are so important.

“That said, Harry throughout the game is always a threat – (he had) a good header in the first five minutes – and he will score goals for us. He’s proven that in the last few matches – five in three.”

Southgate also spoke as to how he navigated his side tactically to victory and pointed out that an away victory to the Maltese is never going to be a straightforward task.

“There were a couple of small tactical adjustments, but in the end we knew the build-up of pressure would result in goals if we stayed calm and kept going.

“That’s a challenge for a team because the expectation is high and the expectation is that you’ll run away with the game.

“But two years ago Italy were 0-0 after 70 minutes here and won it 1-0. They just very rarely get thumped, and we’ve scored four.”

A bland performance saw a number of English fans leaving early. All though they may well have missed the most dramatic run of events. Harry Kane had secured a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute and with five minutes remaining, the score remained the same.

However, a triumvirate of very late goals from Ryan Bertrand, Danny Welbeck and Kane again, saw a veneer of gloss added to the result, perhaps undermining how turgid a performance it had been.

Slovakia at Wembley on Monday night might have more chance of an engaging dramatic narrative. They frustrated England last summer in their group B encounter in St Etienne at Euro 2016.

A draw for Southgate’s side would be far from a disaster. But it is likely England will pursue the victory that would place them especially close to World Cup qualification.

And Harry Kane could well be at the epicentre of any likelihood of that happening.

Brian Strahan, Pundit Arena

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.