After a comprehensive 5-0 win against San Marino, England's next stop was at Arena Kombëtare to take on Albania in their second match of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2022. The home side weren't strong enough against the English firepower as the Three Lions registered a comfortable 2-0 win.
Gareth Southgate rotated his first XI against San Marino, but the usual suspects - Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Kyle Walker, Luke Shaw, Phil Foden & Declan Rice, all returned to the team.
Albania were robust defensively for the majority of the first half but a moment of brilliance from Harry Kane set the two sides apart. The Tottenham striker launched himself onto a Luke Shaw cross in the 38th minute, getting ahead of his marker and guiding the header into the far post.
The second goal was more of a defensive error as Ardian Ismajli played it straight into the path of Raheem Sterling, who, with a cheeky nutmeg, found Kane. The captain spotted Mason Mount's run through the left flank and played it through to the 21-year-old, who slotted it past Etrit Berisha with a fine finish.
Overall, it was a dominant performance from England while Albania, despite defending well for the majority of the game, fell prey to England's pacy & lethal forwards.
With a 100% record in the campaign so far, Southgate would be pleased with his team's commitment as they return to Wembley to prepare for their final game of the international break, against Poland.
England Player Ratings
Nick Pope: 6/10
A snoozefest for Nick Pope and England's defense as Albania barely managed to leave their own half, let alone get a shot on target. There was nothing to do all game for the 28-year-old, contrary to what he experiences week in week out playing for Burnley. He might've enjoyed last night's outing for a change. However, he can surely expect a few fireworks on the 1st of April, as Poland's Robert Lewandowski & Arkadiusz Milik would look to give England a tough last game.
Kyle Walker: 6/10
A standard 6 for the Manchester City right-back. Walker made sure he did the basics right throughout the game. Smart runs into the final third, good link-up play with Phil Foden, Mason Mount & Kalvin Phillips, brilliant switches of play from flank to flank and a rather average crossing into the box summed up the 30-year-old's game from the night.
John Stones: 7/10
John Stones's resurgence this season has been incredible, but no striker in the past two games has yet tested the English international. That might change when Lewandowski visits Wembley. But last night, it was yet again a classy performance from the 26-year-old. With 104 touches, 9 long balls & 6 duels won, a perfect modern-day centre-back performance from the Man City man.
Harry Maguire: 7/10
Myrto Uzuni did try to get the better of Maguire a few times, but the Manchester United captain stood his ground, allowing no space at the back for Albania's forwards to charge into. At the end of the day, the home side simply did not do enough to trouble the visitors.
Luke Shaw: 8/10
Luke Shaw is another player whose resurgence into the top level has been resounding. Injuries and lack of competition had turned Shaw into a laughing stock amongst fans in England & abroad, but he is the one laughing at his critics now. Alex Telles thought he had a free pass into Man United's XI only to see Luke Shaw transform himself into prime Marcelo; the 25-year-old continued his fine form even in national colors, setting up Harry Kane for the opener with a beautiful cross.
Mason Mount: 8/10
How good is Mason Mount? After an exceptional 45 minutes against San Marino, the 22-year-old casually went on to drop another brilliant performance for his country against the Albanians. Frank Lampard has got his fair share of criticism for allowing Mount to have a fixed place in Chelsea's XI in all games, but he was definitely ahead of the curve. Mount is a spectacular talent who is only going to get better with time; one of England's brightest players by far.
Kalvin Phillips: 7/10
Unlike the role he plays for Marcelo Bielsa, Gareth Southgate has given Kalvin Phillips the freedom to go higher up the pitch during attacks while Declan Rice guards the back four. He does not look totally comfortable yet but the 25-year-old is slowly getting the hang of it, often making runs into the final third and linking up with his wingers. A decent outing last night for the Leeds-born midfielder, who is seemingly getting into the good books of Southgate.
Declan Rice: 8/10
West Ham were demanding €80 million for Declan Rice last summer. At this rate, they might ask for above €100 million come next window, because the 22-year-old is only getting better at what he does. An immaculate performance once again as the Eagles got their wings clipped by this absolute unit in midfield. With 5 interceptions, 2 tackles, 3 clearances and a whopping 97% passing accuracy, Declan Rice made sure his defense had nothing but air balls to deal with.
Raheem Sterling: 7/10
The 26-year-old was rather unlucky not to get any goal contributions. Nevertheless, his performance was as influential as any other player on the pitch. Elseid Hysaj did his level best to contain Sterling, but eventually failed to stop 1v1s from his end.
Phil Foden: 7/10
A player who does not look out of position in any position across the pitch. Phil Foden is one of the most gifted players across the globe. While his performance last night was not as good as the ones he usually produces, the 20-year-old did enough to bag his country a much important win. Floating across the right flank and taking his marker along with him, Foden's understanding of the game is excellent.
Harry Kane: 9/10
Captain fantastic. That is 45 goals in 47 appearances for Harry Kane this season, for club and country. A magnificent stat even for the best strikers in the history of the game, and Harry Kane is a few trophies away from making his name as one of the best too. With a goal and an assist to seal off a comfortable 2-0 win, Harry Kane led the charge with true commitment. From bullying centre-backs to finding pockets, creating chances and running the channels, the 27-year-old's skill is superlative. A man of the match performance from the captain.
James Ward-Prowse: 6/10
The Southampton midfielder was brought on for Kalvin Phillips in the 73rd minute of the game to add some stability in midfield, as England were two to the good. James Ward-Prowse did exactly that.
Jesse Lingard: 5/10
Jesse Lingard might be disappointed not to see himself be rewarded with another start after a wonderful performance against San Marino, but he still got a few minutes under his belt as he replaced Phil Foden for the final 10 minutes of the game. Did not have much to do, so he'll be hoping he is chosen ahead of the youngster for the game against Poland on April 1st.