Harry Kane scored his first international goal in 16 months as England cruised to a 2-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Albania in Tirana.
Kane had not found the back of the net for his country since November 2019, a drought of six games, but the captain opened the scoring with a first-half header at the Air Albania Stadium on Sunday.
The striker then set up Mason Mount to double England’s lead in the second half as the Group I leaders made it two wins out of two following their 5-0 hammering of San Marino on Thursday.
Kane and Phil Foden struck the woodwork in a dominant display from Gareth Southgate’s side, with Nick Pope becoming the first goalkeeper not to concede a goal in his first six England games as second-placed Albania failed to register a shot on target.
Myrto Uzuni wasted a good chance to give Albania a shock 12th-minute lead on the break when he blazed over the crossbar after Mount gave the ball away.
England dominated possession on a substandard pitch but it was not until 32 minutes in that Kyle Walker had the first shot on target, which Etrit Berisha saved comfortably.
Skipper Kane got the breakthrough eight minutes before half-time, though, getting in front of his marker to head the recalled Luke Shaw’s cross into the far corner of the net.
Kane ought to have had a second soon after when he got on the end of Raheem Sterling’s whipped cross but rattled the bar from close range.
England zipped the ball around with a swagger early in the second half and Berisha superbly tipped Foden’s shot against the post after some tricky footwork from Sterling.
The Three Lions had their second goal after 63 minutes, Kane turning provider with a measured pass for Mount, who clinically lifted the ball over the advancing Berisha and into the back of the net.
What does it mean? Three Lions stroll ahead of Poland test
Southgate made six changes following a straightforward win over San Marino in England’s first qualifier and they eased to another routine victory.
Albania had claimed four wins in a row, but they were no match for a well-drilled Three Lions side that did not have to get close to top gear.
The 2018 World Cup semi-finalists will be expecting a bigger test from Poland at Wembley in their quest to win the group and qualify for the tournament in Qatar next year automatically.
Kane back in business
Tottenham striker Kane had endured something of an England goal drought by his standards, but normal service was resumed.
The 27-year-old has now had a direct hand in 18 goals in his last 13 England appearances, scoring 11 and setting up seven. Kane has scored also scored in each of his last seven away qualifying matches, the longest ever run by an England player.
What might have been for Uzuni
Albania looked like a side without any belief that they were capable of denying England victory, but they ought to have taken the lead.
Uzuni had a golden chance to score a goal he would never forget and put Albania in front, but he was left to reflect on what might have been.
Key Opta Facts
- England have now won each of their last six World Cup qualifying matches, their best run since 10 straight wins between 2005 and 2009.
- Mount has now scored four times for England, three of which Harry Kane has assisted; indeed, only Raheem Sterling (6) and Kane himself (11) have netted more since Mount’s debut for the Three Lions.
- Kane has now scored at 17 different stadiums while playing for England; with only Michael Owen (25) and Wayne Rooney (27) doing so in more different venues.
- In the 20 international caps Kane has earned in away matches for England, he has had a direct hand in 22 goals, netting 13 times and delivering nine assists.
England take on Poland at Wembley on Wednesday looking to make it three wins from three, while Albania travel to face the minnows of San Marino.