Harry Kane continued his stunning goalscoring form as England beat Lithuania 1-0 in Vilnius on Sunday to ensure the Three Lions finished their successful World Cup qualification campaign unbeaten.
Harry Winks and Harry Maguire both impressed on their debuts, but it was Kane who made the difference with a first-half penalty as England claimed the three points, three days after securing their passage to Russia with victory over Slovenia.
It took England a while to get going and they barely deserved the lead when Kane opened the scoring with his 15th goal in 10 games for club and country just before the half-hour mark after Dele Alli won the visitors a penalty.
The goal began a period of England control which extended into the second half, but they were almost pegged back soon after the break when Jack Butland had to be at his best to prevent Michael Keane from putting through his own net.
England’s intensity seemed to drop after the hour, with goal-scoring chances infrequent at both ends of the pitch.
And, with neither side having anything but pride to play for, the match petered out towards the end, with England doing just about enough to secure a rather tepid win.
England were able to enjoy the luxury of knowing that their participation in Russia next year would not be affected by proceedings in Vilnius, but the certainty that provided did not result in them playing with extra freedom during the early exchanges.
The first chance of the match fell to Lithuania, as Darvydas Sernas sent a first-time flick just wide of the left-hand post 11 minutes in.
England had to wait another 14 minutes for their first opportunity and it fell to the wrong man, as Keane hit a half-volley wide from 16 yards.
The breakthrough arrived soon after, however, as Kane slammed a penalty in off the left-hand post after Alli was brought down by Linas Klimavicius.
15 – Harry Kane has scored 15 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions for club and country. Flourishing. pic.twitter.com/umy4kBorGm
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 8, 2017
England began to click after the goal and Marcus Rashford almost added another six minutes before the break, taking on the left-back before cutting in and seeing a left-footed effort palmed away by Ernestas Setkus.
The away side remained the dominant force after the break, but they were almost caught out in the 55th minute, Butland coming to the rescue with a fine save to prevent Keane turning in Fedor Cernych’s cross.
Lithuania crafted another chance just after the hour mark – Sernas blasting over from 20 yards after a lovely flowing move on the right flank.
A rare second-half opportunity presented itself to England 22 minutes from the end, but Setkus did well to push Aaron Cresswell’s header away from the top corner.
Lithuania substitute Deivydas Matulevicius probably should have rescued a point late on when he latched on to a clever ball in behind the England defence, but Butland was equal to his effort as Southgate’s men held on to claim victory.
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