Three goals in the final five minutes allowed England to strengthen their World Cup qualification claims with a relatively comfortable 4-0 win in Malta.
Goalless at half-time and still only 1-0 after 85 minutes, courtesy of Harry Kane’s 53rd-minute opener, late strikes by Ryan Bertrand, Danny Welbeck and Kane against the Group F minnows put a gloss on the scoreline.
The Three Lions controlled proceedings throughout but found their hosts, who themselves had two decent chances, to be thoroughly stubborn opponents for the majority of the match.
- 2018 FIFA World Cup
- Group F qualifier
- Friday 1 September 2017
- National Stadium, Ta' Qali
The victory means England maintain their two-point lead at the top of the group and they remain in pole position to qualify automatically for Russia 2018.
Southgate reverted to a four-man defence following an experiment with a back three against France in June, as centre backs Gary Cahill and Phil Jones were flanked by full-backs Kyle Walker and Bertrand.
Jordan Henderson captained England in their first match since former skipper Wayne Rooney announced his decision to retire from international football.
The game began with a flurry of chances. Just 60 seconds in, Kane played Raheem Sterling into the box but the Manchester City wide man was foiled by Malta keeper Andrew Hogg.
Malta responded immediately as Ryan Fenech smashed a long-range effort narrowly over the bar.