UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers: 3 reasons why England defeated Kosovo
The game was essentially a dead rubber as Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions had already achieved qualification with Thursday’s win over Montenegro, while Kosovo missed out on automatic qualification when they were defeated by the Czech Republic; they will now head into the playoffs for the tournament due to winning their group in League D of the UEFA Nations League.
Kosovo did make the game competitive, attacking England in a way that Montenegro had not been able to, but they never really opened Southgate’s men up, and when Harry Winks’ first international goal put England ahead on 32 minutes, the result never truly appeared in doubt. England did not add to their tally through until 79 minutes, and from there the floodgates opened, with Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Mason Mount giving the Three Lions a somewhat flattering scoreline.
Here are 3 reasons why England defeated Kosovo.
#1 Winks offers a glimpse of what could be
The majority of England’s players actually failed to impress this evening; it felt like the front trio of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Callum Hudson-Odoi were anonymous for great swathes of the game while Tyrone Mings looked somewhat shaky and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s usual fantastic delivery was also off. One man who did impress though was midfielder Harry Winks.
Winks opened the scoring for England with a wonderfully taken goal; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain collected the ball from Kane and then played a nicely weighted pass to Harry Winks, whose first touch took him past two Kosovan defenders and allowed him to slot home past goalkeeper Arijanet Muric.
But it wasn’t just his goal that made his display so excellent. Winks literally appeared to be everywhere for England, buzzing around the middle of the park and both contributing to the Three Lions’ attacks while also contributing defensively too. The Spurs man did lose the ball a couple of times, but his pass success rate remained remarkably high – 96%.
Essentially, Winks as a number 8 was one of the plus points from this evening’s performance, and with Declan Rice doing a solid – albeit pedestrian – job as the holding midfielder, questions have to be asked over whether it’d be the right call to put Jordan Henderson back into this starting XI, especially when you consider the need for a natural playmaker like Mason Mount or James Maddison in the third midfield slot.
Does Henderson offer more than Winks in that number 8 slot? Personally, I don’t believe he does, and tonight’s game was almost proof of that – England’s midfield has tended to be their weak point recently, not their strongest as was the case in this evening’s game. Hopefully, for England’s Euro 2020 hopes, Gareth Southgate was convinced too.