A Harry Kane hattrick and John Stones brace put England through to the World Cup Round of 16 after demolishing an embarrassing Panama side 6-1 at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
Kane finds himself on top of the Golden Boot standings with five goals in front of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku. Stones, with his first two international goals is tied sixth.
Panama are now eliminated. England are through to the Round of 16 but tied on all criteria with Belgium. If England and Belgium draw, we might see the first place in the group determined by the fair play points, England currently edging that with two yellows to Belgium’s three.
Right from the start, it was obvious that Panama wanted to sit back. A quite a big surprise came in the fourth minute when Panama countered with numbers, Anibal Godoy got a half chance at his feet, but nothing came of it.
Opening the score for England just four minutes later was John Stones. After a corner from Kieran Trippier, the Manchester City centre half lost his marker and headed the ball past Jaime Penedo.
England kept driving forward, and before long, they got a penalty. Jesse Lingard had just the keeper to beat but was taken down by Fidel Escobar. Harry Kane stepped up to take it. Penedo guessed the direction right, but Kane hit an unstoppable shot in to the top left corner.
Lingard scored his own goal in the 36th minute. The midfielder went for a one-two with Sterling and produced an absolutely wonderful shot that curved into the top left corner.
Stones would then get his second of the match just four minutes later. After Sterling’s header was saved by Penedo, Stones headed in the rebound to spark wild scenes of celebrations.
The half was ended by a second penalty for England, as Kane was pulled down and slapped on the back by Godoy from a corner. The Tottenham striker went for the same unsavable spot in the top left, and England were 5-0 up.
There was no point in England coming back out with the same energy, and they definitely held onto possession more, not rushing forward.
Despite that, they did get a sixth. Ruben Loftus-Cheek got a shot away, and as Kane was trying to move out of the way, the ball deflected of his heel, surprising Penedo and bouncing into the goal, completing Kane’s fortuitous hat-trick right before he was subbed off.
Though it was obvious that Panama could not win the match, they were still countering, looking for their concession goal. They got very close in the 66th minute when Edgar Barcenas played the right-back Michael Murillo through on goal.
Pickford somewhat blocked the shot, but John Stones still had to clear it. The goal eventually came in the 78th minute as centre half Felipe Baloy stretched to hit a half volley from a free kick. It was 6-1 and Panama fans were celebrating madly. This was their first ever World Cup goal.