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Harry Kane focus as England win Nations League third-place play-off

The Three Lions skipper played 75 minutes against Switzerland.

Harry Kane, left, managed 75 minutes against Switzerland (Tim Goode/PA)
Harry Kane, left, managed 75 minutes against Switzerland (Tim Goode/PA)

Harry Kane made just his second start since recovering from an ankle injury as England beat Switzerland on penalties in the Nations League third-place play-off.

The Three Lions captain, who was a half-time substitute during Thursday’s 3-1 semi-final defeat to Holland, played 75 minutes in Guimaraes.

Here, Press Association Sport analyses the Tottenham man’s performance.

Role

In addition to making seven changes from the extra-time loss to the Dutch, manager Gareth Southgate also switched formations. Kane, one of the men to come in, was deployed alongside the pacy Raheem Sterling in the forward line of a 4-4-2 diamond. Tottenham team-mate Dele Alli, at the head of the diamond, and Jesse Lingard were tasked with linking the play, while fellow Spurs man Eric Dier and Manchester City’s Fabian Delph provided the midfield solidity.

Fitness

Kane missed nine Spurs games after sustaining significant ankle ligament damage on April 9 and, understandably, looked off the pace on his return in last weekend’s Champions League final defeat to Liverpool. After coming off the bench at half-time to complete extra time on Thursday, he managed 75 minutes at Estadio D. Afonso Henriques on Sunday before being replaced by Callum Wilson. While showing no apparent ill effects on his recent injury, he did seem to tire in the second half.

Goal threat

The 25-year-old’s last goal came for his country during the 5-1 Euro 2020 qualifying win in Montenegro on March 25. He almost added to his 22 international goals inside two minutes with a delightful chip which brushed the fingers of Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer and came back off the crossbar. His presence also caused Fabian Schar to divert a Danny Rose cross on to the right post in the second period, again via the fingertips of Sommer.

Link-up play

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Raheem Sterling, left, squandered a superb opportunity after being played in by Kane (Tim Goode/PA)

After a neat touch to Lingard in the move which culminated in him hitting the bar, Kane later superbly slipped in Sterling, who wastefully fired straight at Sommer. There was little to fault with Kane’s general hold-up play. But he did drift out of the game after the break as England struggled to find an end product against resilient opponents, before sitting out the closing stages and extra time.

Overall

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Harry Kane played 75 minutes before being replaced in the third-place play-off (Mike Egerton/PA)

On the occasion of his 39th cap, Kane could easily have provided the telling contribution. He was unlucky with his instinctive early effort against the woodwork, while he was waiting for a second-half tap in when Newcastle defender Schar made a fortunate intervention. After his 49th appearance of the season for club and country and injury issues, Kane – like many of his England team-mates – is in no doubt ready for an overdue rest ahead of pre-season.

PA

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