Harry Kane scored a hat-trick as England swaggered to the World Cup knockout stage with a game to spare after routing Panama 6-1 in Nizhny Novgorod.
A record World Cup haul had come in an exhilarating first half as John Stones scored twice from set-pieces (8, 40), Kane lashed two penalties (22, 45+1) and Jesse Lingard found the top corner with a curling strike (36).
Kane knew little about his 62nd-minute third, diverting Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s shot in via his heel, but a World Cup treble takes him top of the goalscoring charts in Russia, as well as putting him in illustrious England company alongside Gary Lineker and Sir Geoff Hurst.
Ryan Mason’s England player ratings
England: Pickford (7), Walker (7), Stones (8), Maguire (7.5), Trippier (8.5), Loftus-Cheek (7), Henderson (8), Lingard (9), Young (7), Sterling (7), Kane (9).
Subs: Rose (6), Vardy (6), Delph (6).
Man of the match: Jesse Lingard
Panama were as naive as they were robust in the sweltering heat, but the first-timers were afforded some consolation cheer when substitute Felipe Baloy pounced 12 minutes from time.
The eye-catching scoreline was one to further raise home hopes and bolster goal difference ahead of a showdown with Belgium on Thursday to decide top spot in Group G, although disciplinary records will be needed to separate the sides in the event of a draw.
Who tops group in event of draw?
If two teams are equal on points, goal difference and goals scored, FIFA determines their ranking by fair play points obtained in group matches as follows:
– yellow card: minus 1 point
– indirect red card: minus 3 points (as a result of a second yellow card)
– direct red card: minus 4 points
– yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points
Only one of the above deductions is applied to a player in a single match.
England are currently ahead on -2, with Belgium -3.
Panama had warned England they would “play hard” and Lingard had taken a Gabriel Gomez elbow to the face inside the opening minutes, before danger came at the other end when Edgar Barcenas found Anibal Godoy in space, only for the midfielder to horribly miscue.
Despite that photographed team note, Raheem Sterling kept his place in England’s starting XI. Ruben Loftus-Cheek replaced Dele Alli following his thigh injury.
Panama were unchanged, despite their opening defeat to Belgium.
But England seized early initiative from another set-piece as Kieran Trippier swung in and Stones found himself free, powering a downwards header past Jaime Penedo as red shirts grappled instead with Kane and Harry Maguire.
Barcenas cut inside and curled narrowly wide (16) as Panama looked to profit down the right flank, but more meaty defending soon gave England the chance to double their lead. Fidel Escobar barged Lingard to the turf and Kane’s conversion – into the top-left corner – was emphatic.
Lingard had carried his menace with clever movement and he struck a brilliant third after a give-and-go with Raheem Sterling, England’s travelling supporters now loud in the sunshine. A fine training-ground routine brought a fourth, Stones following up after Sterling’s close-range header was parried, and when Godoy was penalised for arms tightly wrapped around Kane, the Tottenham striker lashed another spot-kick the same way.
England’s intensity dropped in the high temperatures after the break, their work long done, but Sterling might have opened his account had Kane’s pass been better placed.
Panama player ratings
Panama: Penedo (6), Murillo (6), Roman Torres (5), Escobar (4), Davis (5), Barcenas (7), Cooper (4), Gomez (5), Godoy (4), Jose Luis Rodriguez (6), Perez (5).
Subs: Arroyo (6), Avila (6), Baloy (7).
Kane instead completed his hat-trick unwittingly, before being replaced by Jamie Vardy, as Gareth Southgate took the chance to call for fresh legs.
A barely-worked Jordan Pickford kept out Michael Murillo’s dink and a lunging Roman Torres went close at the back post, but the moment to remember for Panama finally came when Beloy slid in to meet Ricardo Avila’s corner, England left level with Belgium on goal difference, as well as points.
Man of the match – Jesse Lingard
England’s indefatigable leader left the pitch with the match ball and pole position in the Golden Boot race but Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard, off cue against Tunisia, deserves ample praise. Targeted for some rough treatment in the opening stages, he hit back by winning the first penalty and then summoned a blockbuster finish from the edge of the area.
- England have won both of their opening two group stage games at a World Cup tournament for the third time, also doing so in 1982 and 2006.
- This was England’s biggest ever win in a major tournament match (World Cup and European Championships).
- This was only the fifth occasion a side had scored five goals before half-time in a World Cup match, and the first since Germany did so against Brazil in the 2014 semi-final.
- Only in 1966 (11) have England scored more goals in a single World Cup tournament than they have in 2018 (8, same as 1954 and 1990).
- Only two players have been older than Panama’s Felipe Baloy (37y 120d) when scoring their first ever World Cup goal – Cameroon’s Roger Milla (38y 25d) in 1990 and Sweden’s Gunnar Gren (37y 236d) in 1958.
- England striker Harry Kane is the first player to have scored at least twice in both of his first two ever World Cup appearances since Poland’s Grzegorz Lato in 1974. Lato went on to win the Golden Boot at that tournament.
England and Belgium face off in Kaliningrad at 7pm on Thursday, with Tunisia and Panama – both now ousted from the tournament – meeting at the same time in Saransk.