England thrash Panama to qualify for knockout stages

Ruben Hill
June 24, 2018

England's Harry Kane celebrates scoring their fifth goal.

Harry Kane became a national hero after scoring a crucial last-minute goal against Tunisia last Monday in the World Cup. England and Belgium have identical records ahead of their meeting next week to decide who tops the group.

Playing from the off with an ease and trickery that contrasted with the stressed-looking England flops of recent global tournaments, Gareth Southgate's team romped into a remarkable 5-0 lead at half-time.

Roman Torres (left), the 6ft 3in tatooed Panama defender, is on a mission to stop Harry Kane (right) and England in their tracks when the two teams meet today.

Kane made it five just before the break after he had been wrestled to the ground.

The Tottenham striker then rather fortunately completed his hat-trick when a Ruben Loftus-Cheek shot deflected off him and into the back of the net. He leads the tournament with five goals, one more than Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku.

Sweden's first-round walkover and Cuba needing a replay to defeat Romania contributed to the lopsided result as Henry Andersson and Gustav Wetterstrom each scored hat tricks in the 16-team knockout tournament - Cuba's only appearance in the World Cup to date. Kane and Fontaine are two of just three players to have achieved this feat - Hungary's Sandor Kocsis scored seven goals in the first two matches for his team at the 1954 World Cup.

Panama's equal-sized army of red-shirted fans continued to dance and cheer on the "Canaleros" (Canalmen) to the end.

Yugoslavia failed to score in their group-stage opener against Brazil and then responded with six goals in the first half against Zaire, who, now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo, made their only World Cup appearance to date.

Sam Allardyce was expected to lead England to Russian Federation this summer, but was instead fired after just one match in charge, and it appeared he had to settle for a rather different view of England's destruction of minnows Panama.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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