Gareth Southgate hails ‘excellent’ Harry Kane as England star returns to form with Wembley hat-trick

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gareth Southgate hailed Harry Kane’s performance after the England striker returned to goal-scoring form.

Kane struck a first-half hat-trick in the 5-0 win against Albania that all but secured the Three Lions’ qualification for the World Cup.

The England captain has come in for criticism for his performances since seeing a move to Manchester City fall through in the summer.

But he looked back to his best as he overtook Wayne Rooney’s record 37 competitive goals for his country.

Kane is now on 44 in total and closing in Rooney’s all-time record of 53 England goals.

Southgate said: “It is hard to pick out individuals. Harry Kane’s all-round centre-forward performance was excellent. His hold-up, he bullied the centre-backs, brought teammates into play very well and pressured the opposition very well.

“Form is always temporary. What pleased me most was his all-round performance. We know he will score goals. I liked the way he was aggressive in his hold-up play. He was running in behind, linked, he was really on song tonight.”

England need a point against San Marino on Monday to officially secure qualification for Qatar, but goal-difference means Friday’s win effectively ensured they will be at next year’s finals.

Southgate said he got the response he wanted after the disappointing 1-1 draw with Hungary last month.

The England manager added: “I thought it was a really strong team performance in the first half. We had an edge and we are at our best when we have an edge.

“It was a collective response from last game. We were very clear why he hadn’t got the performance (against Hungary) and I thought we addressed that in the first half.”

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