Harry Kane, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling starred as England secured a comfortable 2-0 win over Albania on Sunday.
England maintained their winning record in the European World Cup qualifiers, securing a 2-0 victory over Albania on Sunday. The result in Astana helps them stay on top of Group I standings, a couple of points ahead of Poland.
It was a difficult game for the Three Lions early on in the proceedings as the hosts remained resilient in defence, succeeding in minimising the spaces in between the lines. However, a breakthrough from Harry Kane in the 38th minute worked in favour of the visitors, as it opened the game up a bit more.
Although Albania still tried to remain solid at the back, they were supremely pressurised by a series of attacking forays from the opposition. Mason Mount ultimately netted the second goal for Gareth Southgate’s men just past the hour mark, effectively sealing the tie in favour of the European giants.
The hosts, though, will be disappointed with their lack of offensive endeavours, but here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at the English players in their comfortable win over Albania this weekend.
Nick Pope: 6/10
Nick Pope was pressured early as one Albania counter-attack led to a shot on goal from Myrto Uzuni, whose shot went over the bar. That was the only time the hosts provided any sort of threat in the England goal, ending the game with no shots on target. It translated into an easy clean sheet for the Burnley goalkeeper, who is likely to retain his place in goal ahead of Dean Henderson and Sam Johnstone in the next game.
Nick Pope has become the first goalkeeper not to concede a goal in any of his first six games for England.
He’s not had a save to make in his last two games. pic.twitter.com/d1r6wr24I5
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 28, 2021
Kyle Walker: 7/10
Kyle Walker’s return to fitness was a boon for Southgate as the defender started in his favoured right-back position. He did not have to do much defensively but still operated in a more conservative role to offer better protection to the centre-backs. Had one attempt on goal later in the game, which did not really trouble Etrit Berisha.
John Stones: 7/10
John Stones was tested early with the Albania counter-attack but did not really have to anything defensively for the remainder of the game. The Manchester City centre-back, though, does deserve credit for winning the aerial balls and preventing the two Albanian attackers from feeding off of the minimal support that was offered.
Harry Maguire: 7/10
Moving on to the Manchester United side of the defence, Harry Maguire wasn’t troubled much either. His imposing presence, aggression and work-ethic were crucial in marshalling the England backline throughout the ninety minutes. The defender will play an even more important role in trying to prevent the mercurial Robert Lewandowski in the upcoming game against Poland.
Luke Shaw: 7.5/10
Operating ahead of Ben Chilwell, Luke Shaw offered some solid attacking support in the first-half. In fact, it was his cross that found Harry Kane for England’s opener just before half-time. Was not involved in too many incisive attacking runs during the remainder of the game but solid enough to keep Albania at bay.
Luke Shaw’s game by numbers vs. Albania:
100% long ball accuracy
92% pass accuracy
5 duels won
1 chance created
1 assist pic.twitter.com/V6RSFcpWi3
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 28, 2021
Kalvin Phillips: 6/10
Kalvin Phillips retained his place in the side, featuring at the base of England’s 4-3-3. However, he was certainly not the best of players for the Three Lions, often appearing very passive in possession and slowing down the approach play. His trademark long balls were missing too, as the Leeds United star was eventually replaced during the final phase of the game.
Declan Rice: 7.5/10
Declan Rice was somehow much more direct than Phillips at the heart of the England midfield. The West Ham prodigy not only protected the backline with his imposing physical presence and ability to read the game but also threaded a few nice forward balls. In addition, the midfielder drove forward whenever it was necessary, giving his attacking teammates an extra passing option in the final third.
Mason Mount: 8/10
Mason Mount was tasked with the responsibility of operating in the half-space, and while he did lose possession that resulted in a swift counter-attack from Albania, he fought back brilliantly. In fact, the playmaker was one of England’s best players, swerving around the final third with style and panache. Some of his touches were also mesmerising before the midfielder capped off an excellent display with a goal.
3 – Mason Mount is the first Chelsea player to score or assist in three consecutive England appearances since Frank Lampard, who did so in seven in a row in a run ending in May 2013. Heir. pic.twitter.com/4EpRP5DR1d
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 28, 2021
Raheem Sterling: 8.5/10
Raheem Sterling was a complete menace for the Albania defence from start to finish. His nimble footwork, coupled with the ability to work around tight spaces and a seemingly telepathic combination play made it impossible for the opposition to keep up. His dummy, in fact, played a key role in helping Mount score the second goal, although the winger did look sloppy on the ball during the final phase of the game.
Harry Kane: 8.5/10
Harry Kane was arguably England’s best player on the night, leading the attack admirably with his back to goal and ability to link up with teammates. The Spurs superstar struck the first blow in the 38th minute with a quality header, before assisting Mount’s third. He was involved in almost all of England’s offensive moments in between.
Harry Kane opens the scoring for England, what a cross from Luke Shaw 🔥 pic.twitter.com/8z2evF96ud
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 28, 2021
Phil Foden: 7/10
Amid all the Kanes, the Sterlings and the Mounts, Phil Foden had a slightly disappointing evening today. He could not shine as much on the right flank, despite picking out teammates in the final third with some useful passes. He was eventually replaced late in the game, as he made way for Jesse Lingard. Objectively a good performance nonetheless.
James Ward-Prowse: 6/10
James Ward-Prowse replaced Phillips during the final phase of the game, adding more energy in the middle of the park.
Jesse Lingard: N/A
A late replacement for Foden. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.