ENGLAND returned to the top of Group A in Euro 2020 qualifying as they cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win over Bulgaria.

Harry Kane scored a hat-trick, with Raheem Sterling also making it onto the scoresheet at Wembley – what were the main debating points from England’s win?


Kieran Trippier was one of the stars of England’s World Cup campaign, with the full-back’s successful free-kick in the semi-final against Croatia sparking euphoric scenes.

He has rather lost his way in the last 12 months though, and as well as slipping down the pecking order at Tottenham, necessitating this summer’s loan move to Atletico Madrid, he had been in danger of disappearing from the international picture, such is the depth of Gareth Southgate’s options at right-back.

Southgate has not lost faith though, and Trippier was selected on Saturday ahead of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Kyle Walker and the admittedly-injured Aaron Wan-Bissaka. He remains an important part of England’s defensive mix.


Southgate named three uncapped players in his squad for Saturday’s game with this week’s double-header against Bulgaria and Kosovo – but that list is now down to two after Mason Mount left the bench to replace Jordan Henderson midway through the second half of Saturday’s game.

Mount’s maiden cap is a deserved reward for his strong start to the domestic season with Chelsea, not to mention his impressive appearances for Derby County in the Championship last term, and provides further evidence of Southgate’s willingness to pick on form rather than reputation.

If things go to plan when England host Kosovo in Southampton tomorrow night, Leicester City’s James Maddison could also be awarded a first cap, although Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings might have to wait a little longer for his first senior outing.


It was never going to be an especially busy afternoon for Jordan Pickford, with Bulgaria sitting in 60th position in FIFA’s World Rankings, but the Wearsider nevertheless did what was asked of him as he made two fine second-half saves.

The first, which saw him parry a near-post effort from Wanderson, was especially significant, as it came at a time when the score was still 1-0. Sixty seconds later, and Nikolay Bodurov was sweeping away Marcus Rashford’s legs to hand England the first of their two penalties.

Pickford’s second save, when the score was already 4-0, was the pick of his stops, with the former Sunderland goalkeeper displaying excellent agility as he tipped Strahil Popov’s goal-bound free-kick over the crossbar.


It would be stretching it to describe Kosovo as a top-ranking European team, but tomorrow’s opponents should provide a much stiffer test than the one posed by Bulgaria at the weekend.

Kosovo briefly moved above England to the top of Group A on Saturday, when goals from Vedat Muriqi and Mergim Vojvoda enabled them to come from behind to beat the Czech Republic 2-1, and after a successful Nations League campaign, the Kosovans are actually unbeaten in their last 15 matches.

They haven’t played anyone of England’s quality in that run, but it would be dangerous to underestimate them tomorrow. Muriqi, a striker with Turkish side Fenerbahce, Bersant Celina, an attacking-midfielder who plays for Swansea City, and Amir Rrahmani, a centre-half who plays in Serie A with Verona, are their leading lights.


A game against Bulgaria is hardly the most attractive of fixtures, so the Football Association must have been delighted with Saturday’s Wembley attendance of 82,605.

The nation has fallen back in love with the England team, and the feelgood factor engendered by last summer’s run to the World Cup semi-final and the more recent successes in the Nations League has clearly carried over into the new season. Tomorrow’s game at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium is sold out.