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England vs Bulgaria kicks off at 5pm BST on ITV
Harry Kane now has 25 goals for England. He's going to beat Wayne Rooney's all-time record. And to think some people still doubt him. We're lucky to have him.
— Matt Law (@Matt_Law_DT) September 7, 2019
Full time: England 4 Bulgaria 0
Another box ticked, another game out of the way in the run-up to Euro 2020. There is lots to excite in this England squad, but a fixture like this was never going to show it. They did not play well enough to warrant effusive praise, but you cannot knock a 4-0 victory.
Not sure we learned anything we did not already know: England will play in the next summer's tournament and they stand a good chance of reaching at least the semi-finals.
Bulgaria's players can start booking their summer 2020 holidays now.
89 minutes - England 4 Bulgaria 0
England just running the clock down now, they look like they are going to get their clean sheet despite conceding a few chances.
Two minutes added time.
86 minutes - England 4 Bulgaria 0
Very nearly the fifth goal - Rashford dribbles from the left and exchanges a one-two with Barkley on the edge of the area. Lovely backheel from Barkley to slip him in but Illiev is out well to save. Rashford tried to side-foot it but did not start it wide enough.
84 minutes - England 4 Bulgaria 0
Lovely stuff from Oxlade-Chamberlain, one and two touch passing around a tiring defence. Dancing feet from Rose in the area works a yard for a shot but his effort is blocked. Just a question of how hard England want to push now.
Not quite the same level of comfort at Old Trafford, where England are 0-2 in the cricket.
82 minutes - England 4 Bulgaria 0
England stream forward again but Mount cannot quite find the run of Barkley. A nothing game now. This is the rub with international football - every two years there is four weeks of the good stuff, but you have to sit through some real dross to get there. Not sure there is a solution, it's the nature of the beast.
79 minutes - England 4 Bulgaria 0
Mount very lively off the bench, really hungry to press and regain possession. Not seen too much of Sancho, but I think he could be the pick of the bench. Not 20 until April - a superstar in waiting.
77 minutes - England 4 Bulgaria 0
Another change on the way - Kane goes off to a healthy ovation, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is back on for his first England appearance in 18 months. You can read the inside story of his comeback here:
75 minutes - England 4 Bulgaria 0
England lose concentration passing it around the back and gift Bulgaria a free-kick in a dangerous position. Maguire pulled up for the foul. Fine effort from Popov but Pickford steps across his goal to tip over.
GOAL! Kane has his hat-trick
Goes the other way this time, top left corner.
Comical stuff in the Bulgaria box...Kane winds his foot back for the shot and the Bulgaria defender steams through the back of him.
70 minutes - England 3 Bulgaria 0
Jadon Sancho is on his way, Raheem Sterling is going to make way. Trippier's loose pass sets Bulgaria on an attack and they force and England throw in deep into the final third.
68 minutes - England 3 Bulgaria 0
Mount's first involvement is a neat reverse pass for Sterling in the area, then he lets fly from distance with a shot that flies over. Straight into the action.
66 minutes - England 3 Bulgaria 0
England changes are on the way now as Bulgaria enjoy are spell in possession. Jordan Henderson is the man to depart, to be replaced by Mason Mount. Henderson has words with the referee who is telling him to get a move on.
Senior debut for the Chelsea man.
63 minutes - England 3 Bulgaria 0
The game is stretched now which suits England, of course. All the attacking players bar Sterling and Kane will want a goal before their number comes up.
Rose and Rashford playing keep ball down the left. The dreaded Mexican wave has started. England are battering Bulgaria here, pulling them all over the place. Sterling looks like getting a shot off but he is offside.
60 minutes - England 3 Bulgaria 0
No imminent subs on the way for England, which is interesting. I was a touch critical of the team selection before kick-off, but it could be that Southgate wants players to earn their England caps. It has felt like a prize-giving ceremony at times over the years, when one burst of form gets you a pat on the back. There is a hierarchy and Southgate wants it respected.
Kane's penalty technique
57 minutes - England 3 Bulgaria 0
This could get ugly for Bulgaria now. Perfect situation for Gareth Southgate to use his bench and torture these Bulgaria defenders with fresh legs.
GOAL! Sterling buries England's third
A goal typical of football in 2019 - winning possession back in the middle third and breaking. Rashford frees Kane in the left channel and he thinks about shooting, but he does the right thing and squares for Sterling who scores a typical Sterling goal from close range.
53 minutes - England 2 Bulgaria 0
Good defensive work by Barkley to win the ball back in the final third, and England have Bulgaria penned in again.
Sterling and Henderson sustain the attack down the right and England work the ball from side-to-side. Very nearly an opening as Barkley spins in the box but his ball across evades Kane and Sterling.
51 minutes - England 2 Bulgaria 0
England back on the front foot and Barkley is over a corner. Well-worked but no England player got on the end of Maguire's header across the box.
GOAL! Kane unnerring
Kane is one of the most reliable penalty takers I have seen - top right corner and sends Illiev the wrong way.
Rashford taken out by Bodurov. Stonewaller. Very similar to Kurt Zouma's challenge on him on the opening weekend.
49 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
Glenn Hoddle saying the game needs be won before Mason Mount comes on. C'mon Glenn, he's not won a raffle. He could actually improve England.
Danger! One two from Bulgaria frees Wanderson who strikes straight at Pickford from a tight angle. That was too easy.
47 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
Bulgaria straight onto the attack, but Pickford is off his line to collect a smart through ball.
England back into the old routine of comfortable possession in front of a mass of red shirts. Barkley tries to chip one over the Bulgaria defence but his radar is off.
Players are back out...
England will want a more inventive half of football.
We questioned him before kick-off, but that is an impressive record
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 7, 2019
I know Rashford is not a natural penalty-box finisher, but...
It might pay to move him central alongside Kane for a bit more presence on crosses. England are getting Rose and Trippier plenty of chances to deliver but so many have flashed across the area with no touch.
Change of shape on the way?
England have a number six in Rice, and in theory two eights in Henderson and Barkley. Southgate will be considering moving Barkley into a No.10 position or replacing one with Maddison or Mount to push into that role.
Keane's assessment of England
- Too slow
- Players taking too many touches
- Bad body language
- Feels like a pre-season game
That Kane chance
Half time news
Club Statement: Javi Gracia
— Watford Football Club (@WatfordFC) September 7, 2019
Half time: England 1 Bulgaria 0
Not too much to write home about - England have made the most of a defensive mistake. Southgate will want them to create more of their own chances, and there were signs of improvement in the last 10 minutes of the half. One or two moments of loose defending but nobody is feeling too nervous at a sunny Wembley.
44 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
Kane not too far from a second goal, heads at Illiev from around six yards. Kane was stood still so it was difficult to generate enough power, it was one of those that needed to be glanced down right in the corner.
Shouts for handball in the Bulgaria area but nothing doing - there is no VAR at Wembley.
Good work from Rice to snuff out a break and England are pilling on the pressure now as Bulgaria tire. Kane wins another corner.
43 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
Nice link up play from Sterling and Kane, but the flag was up again. Sterling popped one around the corner to Kane who scooped a return pass over the top of the defence. That was close and Sterling was clean through.
Rose's cross reaches Barkley at the back-post and he wins a corner.
40 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
More of the same, England staying patient in possession and Bulgaria dropping right back to the edge of their box.
It's not much of a test of England's ability to play through pressure or build from the back. England whip a free-kick in but Keane is penalised for climbing.
36 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
Barkley has not impressed so far and gives away another stray pass that starts a Bulgaria counter-attack.
England counter the counter through Rashford who was cynically pulled back by Bodurov at the cost of a yellow card. England go back to the centre-backs again and build from the back, working the ball out to Danny Rose.
Much better from Barkley to find Rose with a reverse pass but the ball does not drop for an England shirt in the box. England sustain the pressure, and Bulgaria are hanging on a bit for the first time.
33 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
England gave up another half-chance a moment ago but Popov's header was straight at Pickford.
The home team soon settle down into possession, but again, it is unthreatening and between the centre-backs and Declan Rice. It is difficult against a deep defence, but Southgate will want his team to progress the ball centrally with more ease.
Rose gets in behind and whips in a dangerous cross but Sterling's first touch let him down.
30 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
Southgate tries to get a message on the field with both arms spread wide - seems to be suggesting that Danny Rose should be taking a higher starting position.
Michael Keane drawn out of defence to try and win it in front of Marcelinho but he fouls the forward and is punished with a yellow card.
28 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
Bulgaria messing about with it at the back again, and they are not secure enough to keep hold of it. Kane thought he had pinched the ball in a dangerous position but he has pulled up for a foul.
25 minutes - England 1 Bulgaria 0
Sterling flagged for offside but England are raising the tempo here. If they pass one and two touch and run through lines without the ball Bulgaria cannot keep up.
That first goal should make this game so much more straightforward for England.
GOAL! Kane converts a gift
Just as we were saying England should stop pressing, they get their reward for applying pressure up high.
Sterling robs Bulgaria inside their own penalty area and he squares for Kane who has a simple finish.
It was a loose pass by the goalkeeper Illiev.
23 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
Rashford takes on a shot from distance but it is well wide.
21 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
Might not be a bad thing for England to sit off Bulgaria a little to encourage them to play out and move into a more expansive attacking shape. If England can win it back in the middle third and spring they will be in business.
This is the story of the opening period - England have been in this position dozens of times.
19 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
England have the ball in the net, but it is rightly ruled out for offside. England get the chance to counter-attack which opens the pitch up. Barkley releases Sterling with a lofted pass - the City winger brought it down and slipped a pass in behind the retreating defence for Kane to tap in but the striker was offside.
17 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
Sterling threatens to leave them all in his wake, but superb challenge by Malinov to rob him as he got to the edge of the box. Ivanov dribbles out for Bulgaria and this time it is Sterling's turn to give the foul away.
15 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
That looked spectacular but was well wide - Henderson meets a ball across the edge of the box with a flying volley. Ross Barkley appeals for a foul but the ref judges there was nothing doing. Possession is lost but England have it back within a few seconds. Rice tries a diagonal out to Trippier but it was over-hit.
13 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
This will be a test of England's creativity - the early issue is that it is proving very difficult for either Barkley or Henderson to receive the ball between the lines with Bulgaria so deep. They are always on the 'wrong side' of Bulgaria's midfield. England are therefore playing quite laterally up to the full-backs then trying to work it into the box from there.
11 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
Sterling had Popov on toast there, skinned him on the outside over on the left wing to win a corner. Maguire wins a near-post header but the ball breaks kindly for Bulgaria who clear. Rashford now back on the left as England get into their defensive shape.
8 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
Maguire heads that corner away, and Bulgaria have successfully broken up the early pattern of the game which looked all too ominous for them.
England showing confidence to play out from the back, Pickford slips a pass past the Bulgaria forward to Maguire to set up another attack. Bulgaria quickly in behind the ball again, but Barkley frees Rose on the overlaps whose cross was cut out.
6 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
Bulgaria get their first combination away, and they force a save from Pickford. Nice feet from Wanderson to tee up Marcelinho but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.
Bulgaria spring forward again - England look a little open and loose - and they win a corner.
4 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
Marcus Rashford pounced on a loose ball from that corner but his shot-cum-cross across the area was blocked.
Against three-at-the-back the usual tactic is quick switches of play to isolate the wing-backs, but Bulgaria have two bodies on each flank in a 5-4-1.
The result of that is the ball keeps coming back at them, they cannot get out, and it is all England in the first few minutes. Trippier going high and wide, enabling Sterling to get close to Kane. Both centre-backs taking possession inside the Bulgaria half.
2 minutes - England 0 Bulgaria 0
Very much 4-3-3 from England in the early stages, with Rashford on the left and Sterling on the right. Five at the back for Bulgaria who will not be very expansive.
Sterling makes an early dart behind the back-line to win a corner.
England get the game started and we are off.
Time for the anthems
Same tuneless dirge as usual. Any party who vowed to change it to Jerusalem might just get my vote. The words of William Blake are far more stirring than this, but there you go. If we can't win the football, let us at least challenge Italy and France in the anthems.
Players in the tunnel
And they are on their way out - nice plan-on-Brexit from Clive Tyldesley in his intro: 'in or out, England should be on their way to the Euros next July'.
Apparently Declan Rice and Harry Maguire had a clash of heads in the warm-up but both are alright. You have to assume Rice came off the worst in that collision given the size of Maguire's loaf...
Hopefully we see some of this man...
I'm not prone to romanticism, or even mild optimism, when it comes to England but I think Maddison looks class and exactly what the national team has lacked. Really smooth on the half-turn, receives the ball when marked, and can combine in tight spaces. Perhaps just needs one or two more 'big moments' - of the kind that catapulted Dele Alli, like a winning goal against a top six team - to really convince everyone.
Roy Keane in the ITV studio
The live 'audience with' Irish radio show Off The Ball did with Keane and Gary Neville was box office. Fully recommend listening if you have a train journey or dog walk to fill this weekend.
Is Kane a concern?
My colleague Ali Tweedale took a good, long look at Harry Kane's form and numbers. His goalscoring is still ticking along but Kane seems to play on the periphery of games these days and is not the all-round threat of two years ago. Ali explores why that might be here.
Thoughts on England's diamond
Uefa's graphics have England set up in a diamond, but those team sheets can sometimes be misleading. Jose Mourinho revealed managers have been known to play possum with them and put players in the wrong position to confuse opponents but don't think Southgate will be playing games.
They have Sterling behind Rashford and Kane, which makes sense on paper. Given Kane's propensity to drop deeper in search of touches though, I wonder if the Tottenham striker might be the one at the diamond's tip with Rashford and Sterling running beyond. Pep Gaurdiola has used Sterling on the last line of his attack at times. Let's see how it plays out.
No Jesse Lingard
He has returned to Man Utd due to illness, England have confirmed.
Southgate's young England team arrive at Wembley
Took a while to find it, but here is the Bulgaria team
Bulgaria XI: Iliev, S Popov, Bodurov, Marcelinho, Sarmov, Wanderson, I Popov, Nedyalkov, Bozhikov, Malinov, Ivanov.
They really have fallen down the rankings in recent years - not much experience in Europe's big five leagues in that team.
England no longer group leaders...
That honour goes to Kosovo, who are now unbeaten in 15 matches after recording a historic victory over Czech Republic in Prishtina. Bulgaria might be a more established name, but I promise you this team will give England a much better game. Their best player Arber Zeneli is injured too so this is some result.
— Kosovan Football ���� (@kosovanfooty_) September 7, 2019
A bit conservative from Southgate
Southgate will have a rough minute allocation plan in his head for this double-header against Bulgaria and Kosovo, but the team is a little underwhelming. Fans always want to unwrap the new toys under the Christmas tree straight away, but they will have to wait to catch a glimpse of Mason Mount and James Maddison, and see more of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jadon Sancho.
Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose at full-back feels a little 2016-18 - is Southgate saving the younger Ben Chilwell and Alexander-Arnold to face a more adventurous Kosovo team? There's a wealth of options but no clear first-choice pairing, yet.
Much-maligned Jordan Henderson fully deserves his spot in the team, and while Ross Barkley has flattered to deceive at Chelsea he has performed well for Southgate.
I imagine Rashford will start from the flank in support of Kane, but England could flip to a diamond with Raheem Sterling in behind the two strikers.
England team and subs
— England (@England) September 7, 2019
If you cannot make out the subs they are: Trent Alexander-Arnold, Tom Heaton, Ben Chilwell, Joe Gomez. Tyrone Mings, Harry Winks, Mason Mount, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mason Mount, James Maddison, Jadon Sancho, Nick Pope, Callum Wilson.
The outcome should not be in doubt, but England need to show the process is working
With two wins from two Euro 2020 qualifiers, England simply have to put one foot in front of the other and they will reach next summer's finals.
It would take not just one but several catastrophes for them to miss out, and even if the unthinkable happens England still have the safety net of a play-off place after winning their Nations League group.
That lack of jeopardy only adds to the flat atmosphere around these games, which are not exactly sporting contests to set the pulse racing but are training exercises for Gareth Southgate to tinker and fine-tune.
England's squad is shifting in an encouraging direction though, with Mason Mount and James Maddison the type of linking, comfortable on the half-turn midfielders the national team has desperately lacked. Phil Foden is coming through too, while Declan Rice and Harry Winks offer metronomic distribution from deep.
This crop have prompted Southgate to switch from variations of 3-4-3 to a more progressive 4-3-3, with more midfield control and Jadon Sancho and Raheem Sterling wide forwards any international team would covet.
Unlike when Stiliyan Petrov was their captain, there are not many names in the Bulgaria squad who England fans will be familiar with.
Bulgaria do have some Brazilian-born players who have qualified for the national team after years of club football in the country, including Wanderson who Arsenal fans might recall playing against them for Ludogorets in the Champions League in 2016.
He was also the player who made headlines last month for running to kiss his girlfriend in celebration only for the goal to be disallowed.
Bulgaria are without a win in their last seven competitive games, and have already lost at home to Kosovo in this campaign. They have not won away in a competitive match since Malta in June 2015.
There is not much experience of high-intensity, top-level club football in their squad and all signs point to a comfortable England victory, but there is still a job to do. Team news shortly.