England are through to the knockout stage of the World Cup after a record-breaking performance against Panama.
The team won 6-1 – with the most goals they have ever scored in a World Cup final match.
Two penalties and a deflection from Harry Kane, two headers from John Stones and a stunning strike from Jesse Lingard left Panama in tatters.
The hat trick from the captain made him the first England player to score five goals in the group stage.Kane told the BBC afterwards: “Fantastic. So proud of the boys. We are doing something tough but we’ve been working on our set pieces. It’s just fantastic.”
About the crowd, he said: “It’s been brilliant. It’s what the World Cup is about – everyone coming together.”Asked if fan should believe England can go on and win the tournament he said: “We are not getting too far ahead of ourselves. I’ve said before you have to believe.”He later Instagrammed: “Professional. Clinical. Bring on Belgium and the knockout rounds!”
John Stones added: “To get through this time round, it’s a special moment. We want to do the country proud, We will see how far we can go.”Raheem Sterling said afterwards on Instagram: “What a team performance, let’s continue to build on this ComeOn”
England got off to a swift start after shaky first five minutes when Stones came from the back of the box to head in from a set piece that saw aggressive behaviour from Panama’s players.The second came from a penalty after Lingard was brought down by Panamanian Fidel Escobar.
Lingard stole his own piece of the glory when he went through defenders on the edge of the box to drive a strike into the top right corner.Another penalty came after the referee lost patience with Panama’s shoving during an England corner, with Kane slamming in his shot in exactly the same place as the first spot kick.
With the mostly-Russian crowd still reeling from the goalfest, England won another free kick and put together an elaborate set piece which ended with Stones putting in his second after a first header from Raheem Sterling was blocked.
Eighteen minutes into the second half, just as it looked like Panama were beginning to bring things under control, a Ruben Loftus-Cheek shot hit the heel of the captain to give him the first hat trick in a World Cup finals by an England player since Gary Lineker in Mexico 1986 against Poland.
Panama got a consolation goal when Felipe Baloy met a free kick with a strike to beat England goal keeper Jordan Pickford.The margin of victory means England are currently level with Belgium on goal difference as they go into their last group stage match on Thursday.
The result means that England join Belgium, Russia, Uruguay, France, Croatia and Mexico in the last 16.
The size of Panama’s defeat has left some hopeful that it could mean England could go on to win the tournament for the first time since 1966, with others remaining cautious.
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