England 6 Panama 1: Kane bags hat-trick as Three Lions produce a World Cup best
Harry Kane's hat-trick inspired England to their biggest ever World Cup win as Gareth Southgate's men sealed progress to the last 16 with a 6-1 demolition of Panama that puts their rivals on notice.
Things finally appear to be looking up for an England side who were humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016 and eliminated with a game to spare at the 2014 World Cup.
They secured progress to the knockout phase with a thrilling World Cup win that will live long in the memory as Kane’s hat-trick complemented John Stones’ brace and a Jesse Lingard stunner against shambolic Panama.
But Southgate was in no mood to get carried away with the convincing win.
“I didn’t like the start and I didn’t like the goal at the end, but I thought the bits in the middle were all right,” he said.
“I felt we were a bit anxious at the start.”
He added: “Confidence-wise it was important we were able to score goals. Big moment for Jesse Lingard today especially, great for the captain to get his hat-trick, it meant he didn’t get hump when I brought him off.
“Also our set plays were a real threat.”
Asked what he told the players when 5-0 up at half-time, the England boss said: “We talked about the importance of one more goal to be top of the group, which is why the goal at the end was disappointing.”
Defender Stones was happy to grab his first England goals on the highest stage but felt the day was slightly soured by England conceding late on.
He said: “To score my first goals for England was something special, especially at a World Cup. It’s not something I thought I’d do at the start of the day.
“But I would have loved a clean sheet, I thought we defended so well and dominated the match and to not get a clean sheet is a bit disappointing.
“It’s something to take forward into the next game and hopefully I can get a few more goals from the set-pieces.”