England v Albania ratings: Harry Kane 10, Reece James 8; Frederic Veseli 4

Three Lions on the brink of World Cup finals after Wembley thrashing

Harry Kane scored a first half hat-trick as England all but secured World Cup qualification with a 5-0 thrashing of Albania.

A first sell-out Wembley crowd in two years witnessed a one-sided final home match of a memorable year in which the Three Lions went agonisingly close to winning the European Championship.

Friday’s win means Southgate’s side only need to avoid defeat in San Marino – the world’s worst side – on Monday to confirm their place in Qatar, where the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists will be among the favourites.

England showed their quality in a ruthless, free-flowing first half, with Harry Maguire sending a message to the critics when celebrating his headed opener at Wembley.

Kane has also been far from his best of late but the skipper put that right against Albania, scoring a perfect hat-trick as he followed up a headed opener with a left-footed strike and right-footed stoppage-time scissor kick.

The Tottenham striker moved on to a record 39 competitive goals for England and level in the all-time goalscoring rankings with the late Jimmy Greaves on 44.

Kane also provided the assist for Jordan Henderson’s goal in an outstanding first half followed by a controlled second period as the Three Lions avoided exerting unnecessary energy.

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Updated: November 13th 2021, 3:59 AM