View from the terraces

Harry Kane: England’s brilliant captain regains his form

Whatever his travails at club level, Kane is still England’s ‘leading light’

Whatever his travails at club level, Harry Kane is still England’s “leading light”, said Henry Winter in The Times. When he’s at his best, Gareth Southgate’s team generally performs well too. That was certainly the case with England’s World Cup qualifier against Albania last Friday. England produced one of their best recent performances to demolish their opponents 5-0, an occasion “lit up” by a superb hat-trick from the Tottenham player.

Kane, in fact, scored a “perfect hat-trick”, said Barney Ronay in The Guardian: a goal with his head, and one with each foot. Gone was the disconsolate air he sometimes projects, of an “old, damp faithful hound dutifully tramping the moors”. Instead, he was “thrillingly urgent” as he careered about, “head held high, blue socks pumping the turf”.

That result meant that England went into their final qualifier on Monday needing just a draw to guarantee topping their group, said James Gheerbrant in The Times. Since they were facing San Marino – “the worst men’s national team in the world” – the result was a foregone conclusion. Thanks to a random quirk of qualifying draws, it’s a fixture that has become oddly familiar, and “even the tropes have become customary: the day jobs of San Marino’s part-timers, the number of times over that the microstate’s population could fit into Wembley Stadium”. 

There is little meaning to be extracted from such a contest, but it was a chance for Kane to bring himself closer to Wayne Rooney’s all-time England scoring record of 53 goals. And he wasn’t going to waste such an opportunity, said David Hytner in The Guardian. The striker duly scored four goals in a 15-minute period of the first half, bringing his tally to 48. The final victory margin was 10-0. Southgate substituted Kane just after the hour. Had we left him on, he joked afterwards, “we’d have had Rooney’s family on the phone”.

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