Sports

England, France win in Euro qualifiers

PRISTINA, Nov 18 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 11/18/2019 10:11:31 AM IST

England captain Harry Kane scored his 12th goal of the campaign as they secured a place among the top six seeds for next year’s European Championship with a somewhat flattering 4-0 win in Kosovo in their final qualifier on Sunday.

England were in second gear for much of the match as Harry Winks put them ahead in the 32nd minute, but late goals by Kane, Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount secured another big win and took the team’s goal tally to an impressive 37 from eight qualifiers.

England, already through tothe Euro 2020 tournment in which the semi-finals and final will be held at Wembley, finished top of Group A with 21 points, the only blip being last month’s 2-1 lossaway to the Czech Republic, who qualified as runners-up.

Kosovo finished third on 11 points. Their chances of automatic qualification disappeared after a 2-1 defeat by the Czechs on Thursday but they could advance via the playoffs.

England took a while to impose themselves on the game but broke through when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain slid a pass into the path of Winks who had all the time and space needed to slot the ball into the bottom corner for his first international goal.

Kosovo were less threatening but unmarked captain Amir Rrahmani headed wide early in the second half.

Kane was on target again in the 79th minute with a sharp shot after Kosovo failed to clear a Raheem Sterling cross. His 12th goal made him the leading scorer across the competition and the first England player to score in every match of a qualifying campaign.

Sterling, back in the side after his one-match ban for attacking team mate Joe Gomez, was provider again three minutes later for Rashford, who scored with a neat first time shot.

Substitute Mount then claimed his first England goal in stoppage time, cashing in on another defensive error and a neat pass from Kane. Meanwhile, world champions France produced a fitting inaugural match in Albania’s newly-built Arena Kombetare stadium after goals from Corentin Tolisso and Antoine Griezmann gave them a 2-0 win in a Euro 2020 Group H qualifier on Sunday.

Having already booked their berth in next year’s 24-nation tournament, France finished top of the group on 25 points from 10 games, two ahead of second-placed Turkey who cruised to a 2-0 win at Andorra.

Tolisso fired the French into an eighth-minute lead when he headed home superbly inside the near post after Griezmann swung in an inviting free kick from the left.

Griezmann netted the second in the 31st minute when he turned in a sharp low cross by Leo Dubois, as the gulf in class between the two sides was everywhere to be seen in front of a capacity 22,000 crowd.

France continued to press after the break and Olivier Giroud missed three chances to extend their lead, having twice been denied by goalkeeper Etrit Berisha before hitting the post with a fierce shot from inside the penalty area.

Turkey, who also sealed qualification with a match to spare, breezed past Andorra thanks to a first-half brace from striker Enes Unal.

In the group’s other fixture, Iceland eked out a 2-1 win in Moldova and although the Nordic nation failed to progress from the group, they will have another chance through the playoffs in March.

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