Gareth Southgate says Harry Kane is the ‘best goalscorer in the world’
England manager praises the Tottenham striker after he sends the Three Lions into the inaugural Nations League semi-finals
18 November, 2018 — By Steve Barnett
Tottenham striker Harry Kane
ENGLAND (Lingard 78, Kane 85)
CROATIA (Kramaric 57)
GARETH Southgate praised Harry Kane as the “best goalscorer in the world” after the Tottenham striker scored a late winner to send England into the inaugural Nations League semi-finals.
The Three Lions came from a goal down to secure a 2-1 victory over Croatia at Wembley this afternoon (Sunday) and pip Spain to top spot in group A4.
Kane struck in the 85th-minute to spark scenes of wild celebrations, leaving Southgate in little doubt just how good the 25-year-old forward really is. “He’s the best goal-scorer in the world,” he said.
“You’re always loathe to take a player off of his ability. He’s our main penalty-taker, leader and his hold-up play is critical. We have huge belief in him and he is so hungry to lead the team further.”
England dominated the first half but only after a defensive scare on three minutes. Jordan Pickford was charged down while clearing a Fabian Delph back pass, presenting Ante Rebic with an open goal, but the Croatia forward somehow blazed over from 18 yards.
At the other end of the pitch Pickford’s counterpart Lovre Kalinic was confronted by an England barrage. The first real chance for the home side saw Raheem Sterling’s near post drive tipped behind by the Croatia goalkeeper. From the resulting corner, John Stones’ flick fell for Kane, who fired over from three yards.
Delph then released Sterling through on goal. The Manchester City winger was clattered by Kalinic but the ball fell for Kane, who saw a shot cleared off the line by Tin Jedvaj, before Kalinic got back to his feet to block the England captain’s attempted rebound.
Such was England’s dominance that even Leicester City left back Ben Chilwell got in on the act, testing Kalinic with a dipping volley from a corner.
Despite all of their bright play, however, it looked like the Three Lions were going to be punished for missing a host of first half chances when Andrej Kramaric opened the scoring for Croatia just before the hour mark.
Nikola Vlasic’s cut back found Kramaric, who swerved one way and then the other before firing a shot into Pickford’s top-right corner via a deflection off Eric Dier.
England were staring relegation in the face. But two goals in the final 12 minutes turned the game around in a frantic finish as, instead, Southgate’s men relegated their World Cup semi-final conquerors.
Substitute Jesse Lingard scored from almost on the line with 12 minutes left on the clock, before captain Kane added a sliding finish to Chilwell’s free-kick to wrap up a memorable victory.
The victory guarantees England a place in the Euro 2020 play-offs, a fallback in the event they fail to qualify for the tournament through the traditional route.
ENGLAND: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Gomez, Chilwell, Dier, Barkley (Alli, 63), Delph (Lingard, 73), Sterling, Rashford (Sancho, 73), Kane
Substitutes not used: Alexander-Arnold, Butland, Dunk, Keane, Shaw, Winks, McCarthy, Loftus-Cheek, Wilson
CROATIA: Kalinic, Vida, Vrsaljko (Milic, 26), Lovren, Jedvaj, Modric, Brozovic, Vlasic (Rog, 79), Rebic (Brekalo, 45), Perisic, Kramaric
Substitutes not used: Livakovic, Mitrovic, Caleta-Car, Bradaric, Pasalic, Badelj, Pjaca, Pivaric, Letica