England came into tonight’s game knowing that they needed a big win to get them back on track following their disappointing outing against Czech Republic in their last qualifier just a few days ago. Unfortunately, while Gareth Southgate’s men were able to stroll towards an emphatic three points, the game was overshadowed by a series of racist incidents from the Bulgaria fans that could’ve led to the encounter being abandoned.
Marcus Rashford was able to open the scoring early on before a nice double from Ross Barkley made it three. Raheem Sterling was able to score a thoroughly deserved fourth before the break, but prior to that, the game came close to being called off as a result of the English team receiving racist abuse.
The stadium announcer attempted to get the fans to stop the chants, but to no avail. Following many of the fans in question being escorted out, and another few near misses with the game being stopped, it seems as if things eventually calmed down. In the second half Sterling was able to score for a second time, with Harry Kane finishing off the scoring for the night.
The big query
The next few days will feature a great deal of scrutiny on the Bulgarian fans as well as UEFA themselves, as we wait and see what sanctions there will be for this latest incident. It goes without saying that any of the supporters in question should be banned from football for at least 10 years, but you have to question whether or not UEFA is interested in doing anything like that.
A quick slap on the wrist seems much more likely, but let’s be honest, nothing is going to change – at least not immediately. Issues such as these need to be eradicated and need to be prioritised, and it is absolutely criminal that this isn’t the case right now.
England should be commended for their phenomenal performance tonight as well as the manner in which they dealt with the problems at hand. Will we get a resolution? Only time will tell, but we certainly hope so.
Bulgaria: Iliev (6), Zanev (5.5), Hadzhiev (5.5), Terziev (5), Pashov (6), Wanderson (5.5), Kraev (6.5), Kostadinov (6), Popov (5.5), Despodov (5.5), Mustafa (6), Malinov (6), Ivanov (5), Sarmov (5.5)
England: Pickford (7.5), Trippier (7), Maguire (7.5), Mings (7.5), Chilwell (7.5), Henderson (7.5), Winks (7.5), Barkley (9.5), Sterling (9.5), Kane (10), Rashford (9.5), Sancho (6), Mount (6.5), Wilson (6.5)
Referee: Ivan Bebek
Goals: Rashford, Barkley x2, Sterling x2, Kane
Yellow Cards: Henderson
Red Cards: N/A
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