England made it two wins from two in World Cup qualifying as they secured a 2-0 victory against Albania in Tirana on Sunday evening.
It took until the 38th minute of the game for the Three Lions to finally find an opener as Harry Kane nodded in Luke Shaw’s cross. Mason Mount then doubled the lead just after the break as he got on the end of a cool ball from Kane and caressed a great finish into the far corner to secure the three points for Gareth Southgate’s men.
Here are three things we learned from the game:
Kane back on the England goal trail
Despite Kane’s stunning season for Tottenham Hotspur in 2020/21 in which he has managed to find the net on 27 occasions in all competitions, it was somewhat of a surprise to find out that he had not scored for his nation in 16 months. His last goal for England came in a 4-0 victory against Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualification six matches ago.
However, the Three Lions skipper showed no sign of rustiness as he netted the opening goal with a fantastic, acrobatic header from Shaw’s cross. Now on 33 goals for his country, he will be hoping to add to that as England do battle with Poland on Wednesday evening. As it stands, Southgate’s men sit at a price of 2/5 with Betfair to win that particular match-up at Wembley Stadium.
Shaw takes club form onto international stage
Whilst Kane has been an ever present for England in recent years, albeit not on the goal trail, one man who has been out of the Three Lions reckoning for an extended period has been left-back Shaw. Due to a combination of persistent injury worries, a lack of form and of course increased competition in the left-back berth, the Manchester United defender had not earned a single international cap since September 2018.
However, having been impressive for the Red Devils throughout the 2020/21 campaign, he did enough to impress Southgate for a start against Albania and he continued his top form in Tirana. Claiming a clean sheet, the 25-year-old contributed three tackles and two clearances in what was an impressive defensive performance, albeit not against the highest quality of opposition.
To top off his evening, Shaw also managed to get an assist to his name with a wicked cross that was emphatically dispatched by Kane. Intriguingly, he has now set up a goal in his last four competitive England games – form that he will certainly be looking to continue if he wishes to keep his place.
Albania’s impressive run comes to an end
Whilst the statistics from the game weigh hugely in England’s favour, with the hosts having only had 28% of the possession and not managing a single shot on target, it was an all around solid performance Edoardo Reja’s troops. They kept their far more illustrious visitors at arm’s length throughout the majority of the game with just an excellent Kane header and a mistake costing them.
It will of course be hugely disappointing that the nation’s four-match winning run has come to an end, the longest streak of win’s that they have managed to accumulate since 2010, but more performances like this one will not do their chances of reaching Qatar any harm whatsoever.
With San Marino to come next, Albania will certainly hope to get back to winning ways sooner rather than later and indeed edge closer to a ticket to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Albania: Berisha (7); Ismajli (6), Hysaj (6), Djimsiti (6), Veseli (6); Bare (5) (Memushaj (5), 71′), Memolla (5), Laci (5), Broja (6) (Gjasula (5), 59′); Cikalleshi (6) (Manaj (5), 59′), Uzuni (5).
England: Pope (6); Shaw (7), Maguire (6), Stones (7), Walker (6); Rice (6), Phillips (6) (Ward-Prowse (6), 71′), Mount (7); Foden (6) (Lingard (N/A), 81′), Sterling (6), Kane (8)
Goals: Kane (38′), Mount (63′)
Referee: Orel Grinfeld
Yellow Cards: Bare (21′), Walker (69′), Kane (73′), Hysaj (79′), Gjasula (90′)
Red Cards: N/A
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