England v Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualifying match, Republic of Ireland v Bulgaria friendly – Live – BBC Sport

England v Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualifying match, Republic of Ireland v Bulgaria friendly - Live - BBC Sport

England v Kosovo: Southgate preparing for different challenge

This is a wonderful goal. Sterling turns and wriggles out of trouble in the centre circle, an electric eel, then barrels down the middle. He slips a pass to Kane on the left. Kane enters the area, takes a touch to get rid of Vojvoda, and slams a low shot between Murics legs and into the net from a tight angle!

18 min: Muric miscontrols a simple backpass and for a brief moment it looked like the ball was going to apologetically trundle into the empty net. But despite Sancho applying pressure, the keeper runs back and hacks clear.

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16 min: Barkley turns Voca with indecent ease on the halfway line, and burns off down the inside-left flank. He tees up Sterling on the edge of the box. Sterling uncharacteristically gets his feet in a tangle, and Hadergjonaj is eventually able to clear. But for a split second there, Sterlings eyes had lit up.

Since that draw, St Mary’s has hosted three England Under-21 internationals, as well as an England Women’s fixture.

15 min: Sterling romps down the middle of the park and is inches away from releasing Kane on the right with a cute diagonal pass. Up the other end, Vojvoda is granted a little bit too much space out on the right. He cant find anyone with a looping cross, and Alexander-Arnold clears.

13 min: Kosovo arent taking this lying down, though. They promised to attack, and having already delivered, here they come again. Voca slips a ball down the right for Muslija, who cant get his cross past first-man Maguire. Muriqi was lurking in the middle. This isnt going to end 1-1.

Not since Macedonia visited St Mary’s 17 years ago has Saints’ ground welcomed the senior England side.

12 min: Chilwell takes the corner hed earned, hanging it high, and its easy pickings for Muric in the Kosovo goal.

11 min: England have responded marvellously to that early nonsense. Theyve absorbed the shock in the professional, proactive style, and are dominating right now. Maguire Beckenbauers his way down the middle and very nearly slips Kane free down the left channel. Not quite. Then Chilwell comes down the left flank, his low cross hysterically hacked out for a corner by the Kosovo captain Rrahmani.

The England skipper not only has 25 goals from 40 international appearances but is complemented by the likes of Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, with teenagers Jadon Sancho and Callum Hudson-Odoi knocking on Southgate’s door.

… Keane does indeed make up for his dreadful error! Barkley hits the corner long. Keane rises high above Rrahmani, heading deliberately back across goal, where Sterling is able to expertly guide a header into the top left from six yards. What a start!

7 min: Sancho tears off down the right and earns the first corner of the match. Keane comes up, looking to atone. Barkley takes, and …

World Cup Golden Boot winner Harry Kane grabbed a hat-trick in Saturday’s 4-0 victory over Bulgaria to move him past Stan Mortensen and Sir Geoff Hurst in the Three Lions’ all-time scoring ranks.

Video: Hat-trick hero Harry Kane Inspires 4-0 Euro Qualifiers Win! | BT Player of the Match | England

6 min: England stroke the ball around the middle for a bit. A chance to clear their heads. Keane gets a couple of touches, which he probably needs after that San Marinoesque opening blow.

Danny Rose pays tribute to Harry Kanes professionalism after weekend hat-trick

4 min: Sterling scampers down the left in a lets-sort-this-out style. He nearly gets past Voca but the Kosovan stands firm, refusing to budge, eventually clearing.

“You need to have players on the field to affect the games, but you need to have players that can come in and have an impact and I think we’re in a healthy position.”

2 min: Goodness knows what Keane was thinking about then. He had been played into an awkward spot by Barkleys pointless backpass, its true, but the pass to Maguire was never on. But never mind! Lets think of the greater good: St Marys is bouncing as a result, and we have a game on here!

England vs Kosovo preview, predictions & possible XIs

Hes played a piss-poor pass towards Maguire, easily intercepted by Muriqi. Suddenly Kosovo are two on one! Muriqi slips a simple ball down the inside left for Berisha, who opens his body and sidefoots powerfully past Pickford and into the bottom right! Wow!

A dreadful ball from Keane allows Kosovo an early goal. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock Updated at 7.55pm BST

“And I’ve got to say, we’ve got Sancho and Hudson-Odoi who are going to push, and really push, so I think that it is exciting.

Will Jadon Sancho do enough to convince Gareth Southgate to pick him ahead of Marcus Rashford?

And were off! Kosovo get the ball rolling. A fantastic atmosphere in St Marys. And whats Keane done here, 34 seconds in?

England boss Gareth Southgate claims Man Utd star Marcus Rashford isnt a striker

The teams are out! Kosovo – bedecked in blue and black – stand for their anthem, hands on heart. Then the English one. You know how it goes. Well be off in a minute!

A party atmosphere ahead of the game. Both sets of fans appear to be getting on like a house on fire. Here are a couple of Kosovo supporters politely jigging around to the racket made by a local brass band. Well, you cant be rude to your hosts, can you? Some nice late-70s retro kit on show, there, as well. Saints should bring that one back. Or any other of the McMenemy-era shirts, really, they had a run of crackers back then, Rank Xerox, Draper Tools, all that. An imperial phase of clobber.

And now a word with the equally amiable Gareth Southgate. We were pleased with the performance of Marcus Rashford and both of the full-backs, but we have some good players to come in. The wide areas are a heavy load, and we freshen the group. Jadon Sancho is a very exciting player in an area of the pitch where we have a few. We love taking games on the road, we want the rest of the country to see the team, its a different type of atmosphere. This will be a proper test for us.

Chris Sutton predicts Tottenham striker Harry Kane to break break Wayne Rooneys England record

Kosovo boss Bernard Challandes drips with charm as hes interviewed by ITV. All smiles and passionate rhetoric, his energy is infectious. Hes given a bit of a hospital pass with the first question – is he disappointed to play England as they go on tour around the country? – but deals with it admirably. He admits a pang of disappointment for his players, many of whom will have long dreamed of playing at Wembley, but adds diplomatically: For me as coach, its a game for qualification, and perhaps to play here is better, I dont know! But we play against England, the pitch is very good, and the stadium is very nice. Why not a surprise? One chance, its football! But I am realistic, I see England score five, five and four. We must play and take risks! Youd need a heart of stone not to wish his side well.

No injury worries for England ahead of Kosovo clash

Englands young guns have already done their bit against Kosovo. The under-21s won 2-0 in Hull last night, Phil Foden the star turn. Those desirous of more detail can slake their raging thirst for knowledge by clicking below.

The inner sanctum. Hats off to Southampton for giving the dressing room at St Marys a bespoke makeover. England will play in their famous white shirts this evening. Kosovo will therefore be good for their first-choice blue, though nothings certain these days, well get back to you if the folk from their marketing department have forced them into second-choice yellow or third-choice black.

Englands gear. Photograph: Eddie Keogh for The FA/REX/Shutterstock Facebook Twitter 6.50pm BST 18:50

Meet tonights opponents. Kosovo face England for the first time in their history this evening. They make two changes to the side named against the Czechs, with Florent Muslija and Valon Berisha stepping up. Goalkeeper Arijanet Muric, on loan at Nottingham Forest from Manchester City, midfielder Bersant Celina of Swansea City, and Huddersfield Town defender Florent Hadergjonaj all start.

No surprises there. England boss Gareth Southgate makes three changes to the team that swatted Bulgaria aside on Saturday. Jadon Sancho comes in for Marcus Rashford up front, while the full backs are rotated: Trent Alexander-Arnold replaces Kieran Trippier, while Danny Rose makes way for Ben Chilwell. James Maddison and Tyrone Mings sit on the bench, hoping to make their debuts tonight.

England: Pickford, Alexander-Arnold, Keane, Maguire, Chilwell, Henderson, Rice, Barkley, Sancho, Kane, Sterling.Subs: Heaton, Gomez, Mount, Wilson, Mings, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Pope, Trippier, Maddison, Winks, Rashford, Rose.

Kosovo: Muric, Vojvoda, Rrahmani, Aliti, Hadergjonaj, Voca, Halimi, Muslija, Celina, Valon Berisha, Muriqi.Subs: Kryeziu, Zhegrova, Rashani, Nuhiu, Ujkani, Dresevic, Bernard Berisha, Raskaj, Bekaj, Leart Paqarada, Hasani.

The way things have been going recently, youd expect England to do well at St Marys tonight. Thats because theyve won their first three Group A qualifiers to the aggregate tune of 14-1; theyve won 33 of their last 42 qualification matches, drawing the others in a ten-year unbeaten run; and theyre unbeaten in 29 competitive home fixtures staged away from Wembley, a sequence that stretches back to 1936.

Then again, opponents Kosovo are on a pretty decent run of their own. Theyre unbeaten in 15, a stretch that goes back nearly two years. Having just beaten Bulgaria 3-2 and the Czech Republic 2-1, theyre looking to make it three wins on the bounce in Group A. And they might take a little historical comfort from the result of Englands one previous visit to Southampton in the Euro qualifiers, a 2-2 draw with Macedonia in 2002.

Kosovo boss Bernard Challandes isnt making any bold claims, mind. Hes of the opinion that England are the best team in the world, though he is hoping that his very young team … show what is a very, very high level. Gareth Southgates similarly youthful side wont be taking this one lightly, but they will hope to make it four wins from four and consolidate their position at the top of the group. Its on!

The Three Lions defeated Bulgaria at Wembley on Saturday – but are taking on Kosovo at Southampton on Tuesday night

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