England 5-3 Kosovo: Euro 2020 qualifier – as it happened

Scott Murray on 10 September 2019

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Gareth Southgate knows it was not a perfect night ...

And so that’s your lot for this MBM. Our man Daniel Taylor was at St Mary’s to witness this fizzy confection. Here’s his report; thanks for reading this one. Nighty night!

Gareth Southgate’s verdict. “That was a bizarre game. Obviously some poor errors for goals. I’m really pleased with the composure we showed to come back from our early mistake. Some devastating attacking play throughout. We used the ball really well. But the mistakes were obvious, there are areas where we need to do better. The outstanding parts of our play were obvious, the errors were obvious.”

Jadon Sancho, who scored his first and second goals as an international tonight, speaks to ITV. “It was a crazy game. Five goals, and I’m happy to get two of them. I’m just delighted to score my first goal for England. Scoring means a lot to me. I would like to dedicate my goals to my Nan, who was a big fan of me, but sadly she passed away.”

Those three points put England three clear at the top of Group A. They’ve got 12 points from 12, and a match in hand over second-placed Czech Republic, who won 3-0 in Montenegro tonight. All of which means that England will qualify for Euro 2020 should they win in Prague next month.

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FULL TIME: England 5-3 Kosovo

A trippy, psychedelic, positively lysergic match comes to an end. And they say qualifiers are boring. What entertainment! Another three points for England, who look great going forward, let’s just leave it at that.

Aro Muric shakes hands with Raheem Sterling after the match.
Aro Muric shakes hands with Raheem Sterling after the match. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

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90 min +4: Took them a while, though. It’s fair to say they’ve made this harder than it needed to be.

90 min +3: No, it looks as though England have finally established a level of control.

90 min +2: Can Kosovo find a fourth? Oh go on. There can’t be a single football fan out there who doesn’t want to witness the mind-bending madness that would follow. There just can’t be.

90 min +1: The first genuine lull of the match, so here’s a polite request from Stuart Reid. “Any chance you could remind your gentle readers that it is 0-0 between Grimsby and Macclesfield in the Carabao Cup?”

90 min: A corner out on the left. Chilwell and Sterling play it short, and faff about. There will be five additional minutes. Can’t there be 55?

88 min: Celina dances in from the left and is inches away from curling one into the bottom right. Pickford was beaten. Now that would have set up quite the denouement.

87 min: At the start of the aforementioned move, Rashkaj planted his studs on Mount’s knee. He was booked, but should have been sent packing. Thankfully Mount is fine to continue.

86 min: Rashford nearly makes an instant impression, whipping down the left, cutting inside, and battering a low shot goalwards. Muric parries, but only to Sterling ... who unbelievably scoops over from six yards! He was offside, as it goes, but still.

85 min: And now Rashford replaces two-goal Sancho. Meanwhile Kosovo’s own two-goal hero, Berisha, is swapped for debutant Hasani.

84 min: Mount comes on for Barkley.

83 min: Berisha is booked for petulantly kicking the ball away, having been penalised for tugging back Sterling on the halfway line. Utterly pointless.

81 min: Both sides are looking a wee bit tired as a result, though. Quite a few misplaced passes in promising positions, as the teams basketball their way up and down the pitch.

79 min: England respond with some sterile possession of their own. It’d be wrong to describe the period as a lull, though. Nobody’s let up from the get-go.

77 min: Kosovo push England back, enjoying plenty of possession in the opposition half. But the hosts hold firm in the final third as the visitors probe. St Mary’s is slightly nervous now, with England fans sensing there’s more absurdity surely in the post. It’s just one of those nights.

75 min: The resulting corner is worked towards Henderson on the right. Henderson bursts into a gap and whips high towards the near post, where Keane flashes a header wide. Yeah, not sure how there’s only been eight goals in this.

74 min: The ball’s at Sterling’s feet in the Kosovo box again. He’s swarmed by defenders, but manages to dig out a no-backlift shot that’s deflected and squirts inches wide of the bottom left. Not sure how - ahem - there’s only been eight goals in this.

72 min: Rashkaj blooters wildly over from distance. Then England go up the other end, and nearly make it six. Muric plays a dreadful ball out to Halimi, who is easily robbed by Kane. England’s captain slides a pass to the left for Sterling, free in acres. Sterling draws Muric and tries to slot into the bottom left. But his shot deflects off the keeper’s leg and off the left-hand post! This match is preposterous.

71 min: Alexander-Arnold tries to curl one into the bottom right. He sets it out to the right of the wall, but it doesn’t come back. Goal kick.

70 min: Sancho makes his way towards the Kosovo area. Aliti hangs out a cynical leg and puts a stop to his gallop. That’s a yellow card, and a free kick 25 yards out, just to the right of centre. Alexander-Arnold looks like he fancies this.

68 min: It’s not often I get to type these words on an MBM, so I’ll take the opportunity while I can. I don’t think this game is going to end 5-3.

67 min: In a parallel universe somewhere, Sterling has just scored two in two minutes. First he dribbles sweetly down the middle, but can’t get a worthwhile shot away upon reaching the box. He probably should have laid off to Kane or Barkley. Then he’s inches away from getting a head on a fine Alexander-Arnold right-wing cross.

Kane misses!

65 min: It’s an age before the penalty is taken. Halimi is booked for dissent, then Paqarada follows him into the book for encroachment. Then Kane takes ... and Muric saves! Kane fired his penalty towards the bottom left. Muric reads well, parries then snaffles. He was off his line, but there’s no VAR, so no second chance for Kane! Is anything else going to happen in this match?

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Penalty for England!

63 min: Barkley turns past Rashkaj and embarks on a Gazzaesque dribble down the middle, all power and poise. He reaches the box and is bundled over in the clumsy style by Rrahmani, who is booked for the trouble.

61 min: I wonder if there’s anybody out there who doesn’t want Kosovo to score the next goal? Nah, can’t be.

59 min: Kosovo make their second change, swapping Voca for Rashkaj in the midfield. “As they also proved in the summer, and at the World Cup, England are a bit hooky at the back to say the least,” argues Michael Gibbons. “That will get exposed in a major championship, because the knockout rounds are rarely negotiated with a succession of ice-hockey scores.”

57 min: Berisha wanted to take that penalty, incidentally. Chances of international hat-tricks don’t come along every day. But Muriqi wasn’t having it. St Mary’s is a cauldron right now. This is pure, unadulterated fun.

GOAL! England 5-3 Kosovo (Muriqi 55 pen)

Muriqi slots the ball into the top right. Just. It wasn’t tight in the corner, and Pickford got a good hand to it. But not a strong one. Look at this preposterous scoreline!

Muriqi scores Kosovo’s third goal from the penalty spot.
Muriqi scores Kosovo’s third goal from the penalty spot. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

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Penalty for Kosovo!

53 min: Space for Berisha down the right. He rolls the ball into the box for Muriqi, who takes a touch on the edge of the box. Maguire slides in. He should intercept, but misses the ball, and hanging his leg out for a second time, taps Muriqi on the ankle. The big striker goes over, refusing to look this gift horse in the mouth.

51 min: Nope, he pulls it back for Henderson, who floats a ball into the box, easily claimed by Muric. Not a great couple of minutes for the Liverpool captain.

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50 min: Barkley is bundled over by Vojvoda, 30 yards out on the left. It looks like Barkley fancies spanking this one goalwards himself.

GOAL! England 5-2 Kosovo (Berisha 48)

Scrub that about learning from their mistakes. Rice needlessly gives the ball away in midfield, allowing Kosovo to pour forward. Muriqi powers down the right before scooping a wonderful cross towards the left for Berisha, who takes a touch inside to see off Henderson with ease, then curls an unstoppable effort into the top right! Three minutes and 25 seconds it took him this half.

Berisha scores Kosovo’s second goal.
Berisha scores Kosovo’s second goal. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

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47 min: Kane sprays a fine pass down the right for Alexander-Arnold, who brings the ball down, spins and hammers a shot goalwards. Wonderful technique ... but straight at Muric, who parries.

45 min 35 sec. England haven’t conceded in this half yet. Always learning from their mistakes.

Some magnificent footage of Bernard Challandes, who thought Sancho was offside for England’s fifth goal. He stormed off down the tunnel frowning fiercely and screaming in impotent frustration. “TERRIBLE!” he hollers at the top of his voice ... before catching a nearby camera and flashing an instant - and genuine - smile. The guy’s a true character, you can’t help but love him. Anyway, he’s replaced Muslija with Paqarada, and we’re off again. England get the ball rolling for the second period.

Half-time entertainment. For those fond of 5-1 scorelines involving England.

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HALF TIME: England 5-1 Kosovo

This match has been prorogued for 15 minutes.

GOAL! England 5-1 Kosovo (Sancho 45+1)

They don’t survive them. Chilwell clips a pass down the left for Sterling, who knocks it past Rrahmani and zips into space. He makes it all the way to the left-hand edge of the six-yard box, then carefully dinks the cutest of crosses over the outstretched Muric towards Sancho, who can’t miss from six yards.

Sancho scores England’s fifth after good work from Sterling.
Sancho scores England’s fifth after good work from Sterling. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

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45 min: Kosovo really need to hear the whistle. They’ve got another three minutes to survive, though.

GOAL! England 4-1 Kosovo (Sancho 44)

Rice breaks up a Kosovan attack inside his own half. The ball breaks to Henderson, who immediately slides a pass down the left to release Sterling into acres. Suddenly England are four on two. Sterling slips the ball right for Sancho, who scores his first goal for England by taking a touch before sliding it past Muric in the fuss-free style. England are lovely to watch in full flow.

Sancho makes it four.
Sancho makes it four. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

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42 min: Aliti is good to continue, by the way, so no concerns there.

41 min: I’m not even sure England were aware of Aliti’s plight. Especially as the defender eventually got up again before the goal was scored. But on the touchline, manager Bernard Challandes isn’t too happy about it, and talks himself into the book.

GOAL! England 3-1 Kosovo (Vojvoda og 38)

Aliti and Alexander-Arnold come together on the halfway line. Aliti comes off worse, and goes down. England don’t put the ball out - they’re not obliged to - and off goes Sancho down the right. He reaches the byline, amid a cacophony of irate Kosovan whistling, and fires a low cross across the face of goal. Vojvoda, a couple of yards out, is taken by surprise, can’t sort his feet out, and diverts the ball into the net. Oh dear.

Mergim Vojvoda scores an own goal and England’s third.
Mergim Vojvoda scores an own goal and England’s third. Photograph: Andrew Boyers/Action Images via Reuters

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37 min: Vojvova drives with purpose down the right and smacks a low shot towards the bottom right. It billows the side netting with Pickford sliding across in a panic. He probably had it covered.

36 min: Some space for Chilwell down the left. His cross, intended for either Kane or Sancho, is wayward.

34 min: Sterling jinks and jiggles down the left to win England another corner. This one finds Chilwell at the far post, but the header’s no good. Miles over.

33 min: Now it’s Kosovo’s turn to play a little keep-ball. They don’t really go anywhere, but that’s not really the point. A statement of their collective confidence, the sort you’d expect when on a two-year unbeaten run. They look a really tidy side. And on that subject, here’s our old pal Simon McMahon. “A plucky underdog raising their game and performing with heart and skill against a footballing superpower. It’s enough to bring a tear to a glass eye. Makes me proud to be Kosovar.” Satire, there, ladies and gentlemen, coming at you live from Dundee.

31 min: Berisha drops a shoulder and drifts in from the right. He sends a speculative effort goalwards. It’s deflected, and heading out for a corner on the right, but Pickford does extremely well to slide over and stop the ball crossing the white line.

30 min: Henderson bursts through a little gap down the middle and very nearly finds Sterling just inside the area with a cute chip. It’s read well by Aliti, who intercepts and clears.

28 min: England play keep-ball in the middle of the park. So composed, so very continental these days. Properly European, if you will.

26 min: Barkley is bundled over 30 yards from goal. He takes the free kick himself, sending a high floater towards Maguire, loitering on the right. But the big defender is beaten to the ball by Hadergjonaj, the lack of pace on the free kick England’s undoing.

25 min: The Kosovo fans continue to make a hell of a noise. This match has been wonderfully entertaining, with a soundtrack to match.

Kosovo fans celebrate in Southampton.
Kosovo fans celebrate in Southampton. Photograph: David Klein/Reuters

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23 min: Sancho busies himself down the right and lays off for Barkley, who sends a shot-cum-cross harmlessly over the bar. England look dangerous every time they go forward.

21 min: You’ll not be surprised to hear that Kosovo aren’t finished yet. They respond to falling behind by causing more bother in the England box, Berisha chesting down a pass to the left of goal and sending an overhead kick past the confused faces of Keane, Chilwell and Pickford. Nobody gets a touch, but English hearts were in mouths there. There was enough confusion, that could easily have been deflected in.

GOAL! England 2-1 Kosovo (Kane 19)

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 Muric’s legs and into the net from a tight angle!

Kane puts England in front.
Kane puts England in front. Photograph: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

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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.

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, Sterling’s eyes had lit up.

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 can’t find anyone with a looping cross, and Alexander-Arnold clears.

13 min: Kosovo aren’t 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 can’t get his cross past first-man Maguire. Muriqi was lurking in the middle. This isn’t going to end 1-1.

12 min: Chilwell takes the corner he’d earned, hanging it high, and it’s easy pickings for Muric in the Kosovo goal.

11 min: England have responded marvellously to that early nonsense. They’ve 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.

9 min: Can England play at Southampton all the time, please? This is great fun.

GOAL! England 1-1 Kosovo (Sterling 8)

... 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 past Muric from six yards. What a start!

Raheem Sterling equalises.
Raheem Sterling equalises. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

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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 ...

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.

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

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

GOAL! England 0-1 Kosovo (Berisha 1)

He’s played a piss-poor pass towards Maguire, easily intercepted by Muriqi, that’s what. 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 left! Wow!

A dreadful ball from Keane allows Kosovo an early goal.
A dreadful ball from Keane allows Kosovo an early goal. Photograph: James Marsh/BPI/REX/Shutterstock

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And we’re off! Kosovo get the ball rolling. A fantastic atmosphere in St Mary’s. And what’s Keane done here, 34 seconds in?

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. We’ll 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 can’t 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.

Is that dancer about to get the hook from the stage? Or clipped round the lug with a stick? It’s hard to tell.
Is that dancer about to get the hook from the stage? Or clipped round the lug with a stick? It’s hard to tell. Photograph: Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

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, it’s a different type of atmosphere. This will be a proper test for us.”

Kosovo boss Bernard Challandes drips with charm as he’s interviewed by ITV. All smiles and passionate rhetoric, his energy is infectious. He’s 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, it’s a game for qualification, and perhaps to play here is better, I don’t know! But we play against England, the pitch is very good, and the stadium is very nice. Why not a surprise? One chance, it’s football! But I am realistic, I see England score five, five and four. We must play and take risks!” You’d need a heart of stone not to wish his side well.

England’s 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 Mary’s a bespoke makeover. England will play in their famous white shirts this evening. Kosovo will therefore be good for their first-choice blue, though nothing’s certain these days, we’ll get back to you if the folk from their marketing department have forced them into second-choice yellow or third-choice black.

England’s gear.
England’s gear. Photograph: Eddie Keogh for The FA/REX/Shutterstock

Meet tonight’s 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.

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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.

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The teams

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.

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Preamble

The way things have been going recently, you’d expect England to do well at St Mary’s tonight. That’s because they’ve won their first three Group A qualifiers to the aggregate tune of 14-1; they’ve won 33 of their last 42 qualification matches, drawing the others in a ten-year unbeaten run; and they’re 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. They’re unbeaten in 15, a stretch that goes back nearly two years. Having just beaten Bulgaria 3-2 and the Czech Republic 2-1, they’re looking to make it three wins on the bounce in Group A. And they might take a little historical comfort from the result of England’s one previous visit to Southampton in the Euro qualifiers, a 2-2 draw with Macedonia in 2002.

Kosovo boss Bernard Challandes isn’t making any bold claims, mind. He’s 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 Southgate’s similarly youthful side won’t 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. It’s on!

Kick off: 7.45pm BST.

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