England clobbers Panama with 6-1 win

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

"Yes, I felt emotional", he said. But the bits in the middle were pretty good though.

"Very unusual because I think we probably at times played better the other night than we have done today, but today we were really ruthless in front of goal". And, at half-time (5-0 up), we talked about one more goal to be top of the group, that's why the goal at the end was disappointing. Confidence-wise, it was important that we were able to score goals.

"But there's a note of caution because we haven't really played anyone decent so we have to wait until we play Belgium".

John Stones scored twice and Jesse Lingard claimed a beauty to go with Kane's two first half penalties as England went in 5-0 up at the break. The victor of the group, therefore, will be settled when they face each other in Kaliningrad on Thursday.

With a place in the last 16 assured England boss Gareth Southgate must be tempted to wrap his skipper in cotton wool on Thursday night - particularly with no apparent benefit to topping Group G.

Against a team with more clinical finishing that could well become England's undoing.

England's young and free-flowing team banished the ghost of past national failures with a record 6-1 thrashing of feeble Panama on Sunday that included a hat-trick by Harry Kane and eased them into the last 16.

Many are already tipping him for the tournament's golden boot - the player who scores the most goals in the World Cup finals.

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It was also the first time since the 1966 final that England have managed four goals or more in a World Cup match. Largely solid at the back and industrious in midfield, they found the scoring touch, and it will have pleased Southgate that the goals came from all areas. A former England worldwide, he has been around long enough to know that most of the battle in soccer is creating quality chances, and if a team's players are as world class as England's are, eventually those attempts will start to hit the back of the net.

England showed no mercy and a smart set-piece routine saw Jordan Henderson clip a first-time ball over to Kane, whose header across goal was met by Sterling.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek, in for the injured Dele Alli, took aim with a shot that went in off Kane's heel, with the VAR giving the green light for that hat-trick after checking for offside.

Harry Kane (centre) scored a World Cup hat-trick as England thrashed Panama.

"There's still a lot of hard work to go", he said. But the most important thing is keep winning the games. "We missed out on that opportunity but it would be harsh to criticize the players after a day like that, in the heat as well, so we must enjoy the win".

The scoreline was reflective of the gap between the two teams and although history has never been kind to England and their early tournament expectations, the 6-1 win over Panama added to the air of cautious optimism around the camp.

Substitute Felipe Baloy rewarded them with a consolation goal in the 78th minute, sliding home a free-kick that was Panama's first goal in their debut World Cup finals, but in truth it was a humbling experience for Panama against a side known to get nervous and slip up against less illustrious rivals on the big stage.

But this was mostly a day to forget, and Gomez was brutally honest about his team's display, even admitting that Panama were "frightened" of England's attacking power.

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