The FA

Malta 0-4 England

Late flurry as Three Lions edge closer to World Cup qualification

Friday 01 Sep 2017

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.

Malta 0-4 England
  • 2018 FIFA World Cup
  • Group F qualifier
  • Friday 1 September 2017
  • National Stadium, Ta' Qali
England ultimately had too much quality for Malta and it had long appeared a matter of when they would score rather than if – and so it proved.


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.

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And then Kane forced Hogg into a great save with a near-post header – and there were still less than four minutes on the clock.

Once the game settled, though, and as might be expected against a nation ranked 190th in the world, England took control of proceedings.

The Three Lions began to dominate possession – and they had the ball in the back of the net midway through the first half. Phil Jones headed home, but the referee’s whistle had already sounded for a foul.

Malta, though, proved obdurate opponents, just as they did at Wembley last October in Southgate’s first match in charge.

They frustrated England as the half went on and went in level at the break.

Southgate changed things at half-time, replacing Sterling with Marcus Rashford, but it was Malta who registered the first shot after the interval – and it wasn’t far away as André Schembri’s low shot flashed just wide of Joe Hart’s right-hand upright.

Eventually, England did break the deadlock and it was no surprise to see Kane on the end of it.

Kane’s Tottenham club mate Dele Alli danced his way into space inside the Malta box, sending three defenders the wrong way, before slipping a pass to Kane, and the Spurs talisman found the back of the net with a cool finish.

He almost doubled his tally on the hour mark, only for his long-ranger to be palmed away by Hogg.

Rashford then tried his luck from a similar distance – and it had a similar outcome, with England-born Hogg in the way yet again.

Bertrand doubled the lead with a 20-yard drive with just five minutes remaining. Hogg should have perhaps done better but the ball bounced just in front of the keeper and zipped into the far corner.

Kane then crossed for substitute Welbeck, who was brave and flicked the ball home from six yards.

Kane completed the scoring by controlling Walker’s deep centre and despatching from 12 yards.

England are next in action on Monday night when they take on nearest Group F rivals Slovakia at Wembley Stadium.

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England (4-2-3-1): 1 Joe Hart; 2 Kyle Walker, 5 Gary Cahill, 6 Phil Jones, 3 Ryan Bertrand; 8 Jake Livermore, 4 Jordan Henderson (C); 11 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 10 Dele Alli, 7 Raheem Sterling; 9 Harry Kane.

Substitutes: 22 Marcus Rashford for Sterling 46, 21 Jamie Vardy for Alli 70, 20 Danny Welbeck for Oxlade-Chamberlain 77

Substitutes not used: 12 Chris Smalling, 13 Jack Butland, 14 Aaron Cresswell, 15 Michael Keane, 16 John Stones, 17 Nathaniel Chalobah, 18 Jermain Defoe, 19 Daniel Sturridge, 23 Tom Heaton.

Goals: Kane 53, 90+3 Bertrand 85, Welbeck 90+2

Head coach: Gareth Southgate

Referee: Artur Dias (POR)

By Glenn Lavery