England striker Harry Kane put his Tottenham woes to one side with a performance against Albania boss Gareth Southgate described as ‘brilliant’. The Three Lions captain scored a hat-trick to put his side on course for the World Cup, with a point against minnows San Marino on Monday enough to qualify for next year’s tournament in Qatar.
Southgate’s side thrashed Albania 5-0 at Wembley with all five goals coming in the first half.
Harry Maguire opened the scoring with a thumping header before Kane scored his first of the night with his head.
Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson scored a superb solo goal – just his second in an England shirt – before Kane added two more. His second goal was a clinical left-footed drive before he completed a perfect treble with a stunning bicycle kick.
The 28-year-old has had a tough season. He was denied a transfer to Manchester City and the frustration over the failed move appears to have affected his club performances.
Kane has scored just one Premier League goal this term. Under sacked boss Nuno Espirito Santo, he was handed a deeper forward role that meant he was often not on hand to finish the type of chances he finished so well for England.
It was not just the hat-trick that pleased Southgate, who it has emerged today is reportedly set for a two-year contract extension.
The former defender was also impressed with Kane’s all-round game and pinpointed the way he ‘competed’, held up possession and linked up with onrushing support.
“I thought he gave a brilliant centre-forward’s performance. He competed, he held up the ball and he played other people in,” Southgate said of Kane.
“Of course, his finishing was outstanding. I thought his all-round game was excellent.”
Asked if some of his players, including goalscorers Kane and Maguire had a point to prove given their poor club form, the 51-year-old continued: “I don’t think it’s that so much (being fired up). We are at our best when we have an edge.
“We didn’t produce what we should have done against Hungary and we wanted to put that right. We had a game tonight that could put us on the edge of World Cup qualification. It’s as simple as that.”
Several reports suggested today that Southgate is set to sign a renewed contract with the FA until 2024.
The ex-England international has been in charge of the national team since 2016. He has guided them to a World Cup semi-final and the final of the European Championship in the summer.
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There had been suggestions that Southgate might choose to re-enter club management after the 2022 World Cup. He has not had a club job since leaving Middlesbrough in 2009 and is believed to feel that he has ‘unfinished business’.
However, Southgate refused to confirm whether talks have taken place over a new deal and instead wants to make sure that his side get at least a point against San Marino.
He said: “We need a point. We’re not done. It would be wrong for my attention to be anywhere other than that.
“My job is to get this team to a World Cup and then we can get everything else out the way after that.
“It’s an irrelevance for me. I’m under contract, I’m not out of contract. I’m very well backed and supported here. My focus is just on getting this qualification done and then everything else can wait.”