Bulgaria 0-6 England: 5 Talking Points | Euro 2020 Qualifiers
- Five talking points as England returned to winning ways in their Euro 2020 Qualifying group, albeit with controversy overshadowing them...
England returned to winning ways in their Euro 2020 Qualifying group with an emphatic 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria in Sofia on Monday evening, though their victory was overshadowed by racist chanting and abuse by home supporters.
There were braces for Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling after Marcus Rashford broke the deadlock inside seven minutes before captain Harry Kane finished the rout late on. The fixture was a completely different atmosphere to their shock 2-1 defeat by Czech Republic on Friday and although expected to dominate, the flow completely shifted midway through the first-half.
Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings, making his international debut here, was subjected to abuse and after making that clear to an official on the far side, Croatian referee Ivan Bebek temporarily halted the match to enforce UEFA's three-step racism protocol.
A loud PA warning announcement echoed around the stadium, urging supporters not to engage in abusive or racial behavior - with home fans angry the game was being put in jeopardy.
"Because of racist behaviour among spectators which is interfering with the game, the referee has indicated he may have to suspend the match. Please be under no mistake the game will be suspended and may be abandoned if the racist behaviour continues."
The same happened just before first-half stoppage-time, this time with goalscorer Raheem Sterling speaking up on the far side. The threat of a game abandonment was ominous, as Gareth Southgate responded passionately but equally with calm as he addressed his players near the touchline.
They returned as normal to begin the second-half and with earlier incidents quieting down, this match wore on. England were already armed with an unassailable lead, one which only increased as substitutions highlighted their eagerness to score further goals on a memorable evening for all the wrong reasons. Without further ado, here's a look at five talking points from England's latest win on a night which will live long in the memory:
#5 Harry Kane puts on his creative boots
Despite netting 13 goals for club and country this term, there's a suspicion Kane is already nearing the peak of his powers and will regret how his career has unfolded in the future.
Tottenham's underwhelming form hasn't helped matters, while he's dismissed advances from Europe's elite - namely Real Madrid and Juventus - for a Spurs side yet to justify his long-term loyalty. However, on this occasion, the 26-year-old displayed another facet of his all-round repertoire to devastating effect - being able to facilitate for his teammates, both with spatial awareness and unselfishness you don't come to expect from him.
It was his great weighted pass, crossing into Barkley on the run into the box, who headed home to complete a first-half brace. Sterling lurked alongside the Chelsea man in the build-up and eventually presented an opportunity by the Tottenham striker before half-time.
England had overwhelmed their hosts on the counter-attack, Kane ran through midfield with options galore at his disposal. Having combined with former club teammate Kieran Trippier, he fizzed a low pass into Sterling's path - who couldn't miss. 4-0 and cruising, the Three Lions were not done there.
Kane produced another clever assist to ensure Sterling completed his brace after the break, as England made just six passes following Jordan Pickford's effective break-starting kick before wheeling away to celebrate. The ease at which they picked Bulgaria apart was rather emphatic and despite hitting the woodwork late on, he finally got his goal after 85 minutes to finish the rout, with a near-post finish having pounced with Bulgaria lax in possession and goalkeeper Plamen Iliev soundly beaten from close-range.