Published By: Siddarth Sriram
Last Updated: November 18, 2023, 07:06 IST
United Kingdom (UK)
Harry Kane scored his 62nd goal for England to ensure Gareth Southgate’s lacklustre side clinched an uninspired 2-0 win against Malta in Friday’s Euro 2024 qualifier.
England had already qualified for the European Championship with two games to spare, but they are bidding to secure a place among the top seeds in Germany by winning Group C in style.
Only the top five best performing nations throughout the qualifying campaign will be top seeded in next month’s Euro draw.
Unbeaten England have six wins and a draw in the group after Enrico Pepe’s early own goal and Kane’s second half strike settled a drab encounter at Wembley.
England failed to take a shot on target until the 63rd minute vs Malta.It’s the first time they’ve failed to record a shot on target in the first-half of a game at Wembley since 2017 vs Germany.
— Squawka (@Squawka) November 17, 2023
Follow all the action from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 including the World Cup schedule, World Cup 2023 results, and ICC Cricket World Cup points table. Players are vying to top the World Cup 2023 Most Runs and World Cup 2023 Most Wickets charts.
A victory in their final qualifier in North Macedonia on Monday would achieve England’s top-seeding target, with a point possibly enough depending on other results.
Given Malta’s lowly 171st place in FIFA’s world rankings, this was by far England’s least impressive performance in a qualifying campaign that has otherwise been plain sailing.
Conor Gallagher was taken off at half-time after a tepid display, while Marcus Rashford’s Manchester United struggles continued for England.
Trent Alexander-Arnold was one of the few bright spots playing in a midfield role instead of the right-back berth he occupies for Liverpool.
“If you don’t start games well, it’s very difficult to pick it up and we didn’t. We know the level we’ve got should be better,” Southgate said.
“Not enough quality on the ball and not enough chances created. We didn’t hit the heights that we have this year.
“We have a lot of players that weren’t in there tonight. The number of games these players are playing, it’s almost a self-regulation.
“There are positives, but we know we were not where we want to be.”
Phil Foden was phenomenal today vs Malta…Forced the own goal to give England the lead!⚽️68 Touches88% Pass Accuracy5 Ground Duels Won4 Successful Dribbles✅pic.twitter.com/0UwEJFCeBc
— Opinionated Fan (@OpinionatedSF19) November 17, 2023
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It was hardly the ideal way to pay tribute to former Manchester United and England star Bobby Charlton, who died aged 86 in October.
Southgate was at Charlton’s funeral in Manchester on Monday and the 1966 World Cup winner was celebrated prior to kick-off against Malta.
In England’s first home game since Charlton’s death, a video montage was introduced by his World Cup team-mate Geoff Hurst, while a red and white mosaic in the stands read ‘Sir Bobby’.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)