Belfast Telegraph

Southgate condemns fans who booed Gomez after England hit seven on way to qualifying

England 7 Montenegro 0

Tricky customer: Harry Kane toasts his third goal of the match
Tricky customer: Harry Kane toasts his third goal of the match
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

Gareth Southgate condemned England fans who booed Joe Gomez as they smashed Montenegro to seal their place at Euro 2020.

On a landmark night at Wembley, captain Harry Kane led the rout with a 19-minute hat-trick.

What a way this was for England to mark 1,000 games in international football.

In front of stars past and present, including the axed Sterling, it was a glimpse of an exciting future for boss Gareth Southgate.

He named the youngest starting XI in 60 years, but his players came of age.

The only sour note came when Gomez, the player involved in the altercation which led to Sterling being dropped, was booed by a section of the home support when he came on as a second half substitute.

Afterwards Southgate hit out at those behind it, saying the Sterling issue “was put to bed” and Gomez “had done absolutely nothing wrong”.

He added: “No England player should ever be booed when they are wearing the shirt - ever. I don’t get it.

“All of the players are particularly disappointed in that.”

Sterling also took to Twitter to condemn the boos, adding: “It was hard for me to see my team mate get booed for something that was my fault. Joe hasn’t done anything wrong & for me to see someone who keeps his head down and work hard especially after a difficult week for him to be booed when he came on tonight was wrong.”

That aside, the highlight was another Kane hat-trick. He is up to sixth on England's all-time list of record goalscorers, with 31 goals now from 44 games.

It all started with a goal from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, with Kane’s treble either side of Marcus Rashford’s strike.

A comical own-goal from Aleksandar Sofranac made it 6-0 in the second half before sub Tammy Abraham sealed the rout.

The result ensures England top Group A, sealing their place at the Euros next summer in style.

They still have one more qualifier, against Kosovo on Sunday.

It had been expected Sterling would return for that game, but after this, Southgate has a decision to make.

This was always going to be a night of celebration, as the FA marked 1,000 games, but the crowd of 77,277 were treated to something special.

Search back through the previous 999 England games and you would have struggled to find anything to match the first half here.

They tore Montenegro apart, racing into a 5-0 lead inside 40 minutes.

Aside from Kane’s goals treble, there were three assists for Ben Chilwell.

Montenegro’s defence, so horribly exposed at set-pieces, struggled with the trickery of Jadon Sancho, who took Sterling’s place in the three-man attack, and were cut open time and again by the driving runs of Oxlade-Chamberlain.

It was the latter, on his first international start in 18 months, who got England going with a goal in the 11th minute.

He collected a pass from Chilwell on the inside right channel and, after a superb touch to control, drilled a well-placed shot into the far corner.

With an average age of 23 years and 255 days, this was England’s youngest line-up since 1959, but it all clicked so impressively.

Kane was denied at close range while Rashford had a powerful effort turned over by goalkeeper Milan Mijatovic.

The second came in the 18th minute after England won a free-kick near the left corner of the box.

Chilwell curled in the ball and Kane stooped to head in.

The same two combined for England’s third in the 24th minute.

Again Kane was left unmarked, no-one picking him up as he came rushing in to meet Chilwell’s corner and scoring with another simple header.

Jordan Pickford produced a fine one-handed save to stop Marko Simic pulling a goal back, but it was a mere footnote in a half of utter England dominance.

Rashford added goal number four in the 30th minute.

A corner was played short and Oxlade-Chamberlain crossed to Harry Maguire, whose header was well saved.

The ball came to Rashford, who took it on to his right foot before steering his effort past the helpless Montenegro goalkeeper.

England were relentless, so was Kane.

He completed his hat-trick, scoring the fifth in the 36th minute.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross took a slight deflection and Kane showed good footwork to kill the ball, swivel smartly and slot in.

The faces of the Montenegro defenders matched the colour of their red shirts.

The home crowd were loving it though.

In the stands, Wayne Rooney, Paul Gascoigne and Geoff Hurst were sat together, applauding as each goal hit the net.

Montenegro switched to a back five for the second half and their defence was a little more organised, though England had eased off.

Kane was subbed, departing to high-fives from team-mates on the subs bench.

Yet the misery was far from complete for Montenegro, and an own-goal made it 6-0.

It followed more chaotic defending, as Rashford’s cross was spilled by the goalkeeper on to Sancho.

The ball fell for Mason Mount, who scuffed his shot, but Sofranac inadvertently hooked the ball into his own net.

Abraham completed the rout with number seven in the 84th minute.

Again Chilwell was involved, finding Sancho who supplied the cross for the Chelsea striker to convert.

England: Pickford, Alexander-Arnold, Stones, Maguire, Chilwell, Winks, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Maddison, 56), Mount (Gomez, 70), Rashford, Sancho, Kane (Abraham, 57)

Subs not used: Pope, Trippier, Rose, Mings, Tomori, Rice, Hudson-Odoi, Wilson, Henderson

Montenegro: Mijatovic, Vesovic, Sofranac, Simic, Radunovic (Raspopovic, 46), Hocko, Lagator, Vukcevic, Jovovic (Jankovic, 65), Haksabanovic (Boljevic, 74), Beciraj

Subs not used: Petkovic, Kopitovic, Mugosa, Sarkic, Sekulic, Vujacic, Kojasevic, Bulatovic

Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz (Spain)

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