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England 2 – Malta – Match Report & Highlights

England laboured to an uninspiring 2-0 win over Malta at Wembley on Friday, with only a late Harry Kane goal adding gloss to an otherwise poor performance.

Gareth Southgate’s side had been hit by a series of injuries in the build-up to the European Championship Qualifier dead-rubber but this was a terrible display from a team with ambitions of winning the tournament in Germany next summer. Qualification may have already been assured but this performance won’t have impressed anyone questioning this team’s credentials of going all the way at the Euros.

When these sides met in June, a Malta own goal eight minutes into the match had given England the platform for a commanding 4-0 away win. Incredibly Enrico Pepe repeated the gift exactly eight minutes into this contest – but any thought the floodgates would open faded as Southgate’s disjointed players struggled to create any major chances against a country ranked 171st in the world.

Trent Alexander-Arnold had his side’s first shot 39 minutes into the game. He was then the first to hit the target on 64 minutes. The near-capacity crowd, arriving at Wembley in expectation of a big win, were starved of excitement until subs Kyle Walker and Bukayo Saka linked up with the standout Phil Foden and Kane to double the advantage 15 minutes from time.

There was an incredulous decision to book Kane for diving when he was brought down by Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello in the first half and the England captain was spotted to be in an offside position by VAR when Declan Rice lashed in what would have been a third. But rather than injustice, it will be England’s inability to dominate their opponents which will concern Southgate.

He takes his side to North Macedonia on Monday aiming to sign off this campaign as group winners and wrap up an almost-certain place in Pot 1 for the Euro 2024 draw, which takes place later this month. He will also hope for a more encouraging performance than this disappointing effort.

More to follow…

What’s next?

England’s final Euro 2024 Qualifier is away to North Macedonia on Monday – kick-off 7.45pm.

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