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Harry Kane hat-trick hero

Last updated: June 25, 2018 by Leon Marshal

England captain Harry Kane was the hero as England thumped Panama 6-1 to record their biggest ever win at a World Cup. England sit top of Group G with qualification for the knock-out round already secured. The Three Lions face Belgium on Thursday with the winners assured of the top spot.

After scoring two goals in England’s first game against Tunisia, Harry Kane went one better in the second match, hitting three goals to help England win their first two World Cup games, a feat they have only achieved three times since 1950.

England started the game with the same high intensity they showed in their opening game against Tunisia which they won 2-1 courtesy of a brilliant header in stoppage time by Kane.

Harry Kane and Panama

Manchester City’s John Stones was the unlikely scorer of England’s first goal, heading in the opener after just eight minutes. Kane then doubled England’s lead with a thunderous penalty on 22 minutes after Jesse Lingard had been fouled in a tussle with two Panama defenders.

Jesse Lingard hit a spectacular shot in the 36th minute to put England 3-0 up. The Manchester United midfielder extracted a degree of revenge for the rough treatment he was receiving on the field by curling a 25-yard shot into the top right corner.

The score was 4-0 after 40 minutes when defender John Stones added his second of the match, heading in smartly to finish a well-executed set piece.

After the Tunisia game, England captain Kane bemoaned the fact that the Tunisia defenders were holding at corners and set pieces but their actions went unpunished. The Panama players tried the same tactics but found the referee was more tuned in and at the stroke of half-time he awarded England a second penalty after Kane was wrestled to the floor.

Penalties are often a taboo subject with England fans but the emphatic way Kane scored his second penalty and England’s fifth goal was incredible and has hopefully laid the ghost of England’s past to rest. The 24-year-old appeared to have ice running through his veins as he stepped up to take the spot kick, he looked calm and composed as he hit an almost carbon copy penalty that gave the keeper no chance.

Kane was fortunate for his third in the 62nd minute. A speculative shot from Ruben Loftus-Cheek clipped Kane’s heel and this defection sent the ball into the Panama goal. It was a huge slice of luck but it meant a bemused Kane joined Geoff Hurst and Gary Lineker as the only English players to score a hat-trick at the World Cup finals.

Panama supporters celebrated as if they had won the game when in the 78th minute Felipe Baloy scored Panama’s first ever goal in the World Cup. Few would begrudge the debutants this goal but it will be slightly worrying for England manager Gareth Southgate that his team have conceded in both matches they have played. There will certainly be tougher matches ahead and these defensive frailties are likely to be exposed by better quality opposition.

The 6-1 score line means England sit top of Group G by the finest of margins, they have the same record as second placed Belgium but have a better disciplinary record, England have 2 yellow cards compared to Belgium’s three. England go head-to-head with Belgium on Thursday in the last game of the group.

Harry Kane after scoring a hat-trick

The race for the Golden Boot

Kane’s five goals in this years’ tournament puts the Tottenham man in a strong position to claim the prestigious Golden Boot award. An England player has only ever won the award once, back in 1986 when Gary Lineker scored six in Mexico.

Kane’s goal tally would have already won the Golden Boot in 1934, 1962, 2006 and 2010. The question remains with qualification for the knock-out round already achieved, will Kane be given the opportunity to increase his tally against Belgium or will Gareth Southgate decide to rest his talisman, saving the striker for future battles?

The race for the Golden Boot is a close one. Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku scored two goals in his first two games, a feat that hadn’t been achieved for 32 years only to see Kane match the feat just 24 hours later. Another player who is matching Lukaku on four goals is Cristiano Ronaldo. The current Ballon d’Or holder scored a hat-trick in Portugal’s opening game 3-3 draw with Spain and added a fourth against Morocco. A penalty miss against Iran cost the 33-year-old a chance to match Kane’s tally.

5 goals: Harry Kane (England)

4: Romelu Lukaku (Belgium)

4: Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

3: Denis Cheryshev (Russia)

3: Diego Costa (Spain)