Is Harry Kane on his way to being England’s greatest goalscorer? Has Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain just made James Maddison’s task of winning a starting spot even tougher? Here are the top talking points from England’s 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro.
- England 7-0 Montenegro – Match report and highlights
Kane heading for history books
In the space of 19 first-half minutes, on his 44th appearance for England, Kane moved from 28 international goals to 31, his hat-trick moving him above Frank Lampard, Vivian Woodward, Tom Finney, Alan Shearer and Nat Lofthouse and up to sixth in the all-time scoring charts.
Still only 26, it is surely only a matter of time until he overhauls Wayne Rooney’s total of 53 and becomes England’s record scorer. He only needs nine more to move level with Michael Owen, and having scored 11 in seven qualifiers, his recent form suggests it will not be long until he gets there.
Kane’s first two goals at Wembley were headers from Ben Chilwell deliveries, but it was his third which showed the deadly finishing ability that makes him such a special striker. Having killed Trent Alexander-Arnold’s deflected cross, he swivelled and fired a diagonal finish into the corner.
England’s leading scorers Player Apps Goals Wayne Rooney 120 53 Bobby Charlton 106 49 Gary Lineker 80 48 Jimmy Greaves 57 44 Michael Owen 89 40 Harry Kane 44 31
Kane might have fancied his chances of adding to his total in the second half, but his early withdrawal for Tammy Abraham allowed him a well-deserved rest. He will get plenty more chances in the months and years ahead. “He’s an incredible goalscorer,” said Gareth Southgate afterwards. “When the opportunities are there, he’s absolutely ruthless.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain seizes his chance
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was viewed by Southgate as a guaranteed England starter before the knee injury which ruled him out of the World Cup last year. On the evidence of his return to the side against Montenegro, it might not be long until he is seen in the same way again.
The midfielder came into this game on the back of a run of four goals in five games for Liverpool and his fine form continued with another goalscoring performance at Wembley. This was Oxlade-Chamberlain’s first international appearance since March 2018. Eighteen months on, however, and he looked right at home from the start.
His opener arrived in the 11th minute, when he calmly controlled Ben Chilwell’s diagonal pass, composed himself, then crashed a low shot past Montenegro goalkeeper Milan Mijatovic. It was the clinical finish of a player eager to prove a point. It was also his first international goal since 2017.
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Oxlade-Chamberlain had plenty of other bright attacking moments before being replaced by James Maddison early in the second half, but it was his off-the-ball work which best illustrated why he is so highly valued by Southgate. On more than one occasion in the first half, his pressing forced turnovers, allowing England to keep piling on the pressure.
His return to the side is good news for Southgate and so too is his return to form. Oxlade-Chamberlain is perfectly suited to the kind of high-intensity football Southgate advocates and, crucially, he also provides the kind of creativity and goal threat England’s midfield sometimes lacks. This could be his first step to earning a starting spot at Euro 2020.
Maddison’s task is harder now
There had been a clamour for Maddison to be given a chance in England’s midfield ahead of this game, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s inclusion alongside Mason Mount and Harry Winks meant he had to settle for a debut from the bench, eventually making his way onto the pitch in the 56th minute.
- England player ratings vs Montenegro
The 22-year-old has shone for Leicester this season, picking up where he left off following an impressive 2018/19 campaign, but Oxlade-Chamberlain’s return to the fold means he is now facing an even tougher task to earn a starting spot. Southgate can also call on Declan Rice, an unused substitute at Wembley, as well as Ross Barkley and Jordan Henderson.
Maddison was clearly eager to impress when he did get his chance, but – understandably, perhaps, given he is still a newcomer at international level – there were some signs of nerves in his performance.