MOSCOW. — Hat-trick hero Harry Kane says “it’s all coming together” for England at the World Cup after Gareth Southgate’s side sailed into the last 16 with a 6-1 rout of Panama yesterday. Kane’s treble and two goals from John Stones, with Jesse Lingard also on the scoresheet, meant England joined Belgium on six points at the top of group G ahead of the match between the two teams on Thursday.
England’s young and free-flowing team banished the ghost of past national failures with a record thrashing of feeble Panama.
England’s biggest-ever World Cup win, featuring two penalties by Kane then a fortuitous deflection off his heel, also guaranteed Belgium’s berth in the next round.
“Not many players score a hat-trick at a World Cup, so I’m proud of it. We had fun out there too,” said Kane calling his third “one of the luckiest goals of my life.”
Ahead of their meeting on Thursday to decide who tops Group G, England and Belgium are level on points, goal difference and goals scored.
Yesterday’s game at a pulsating Nizhny Novgorod stadium left the shell-shocked Central Americans out of their debut tournament with nine goals conceded.
It also eliminated Tunisia.
Playing from the off with an ease and trickery that contrasted with the stressed-looking England flops of recent international tournaments, Gareth Southgate’s team romped into a remarkable 5-0 lead at halftime.
Defender Stones headed England in front in the eighth minute from a corner, losing his marker to angle home, before captain Kane made it 2-0 in the 22nd minute with a penalty after Jesse Lingard was pushed in the box by Fidel Escobar.
Kane said: “I’m very proud. Not many players get to score a hat-trick in the World Cup.
“We have to enjoy this. It’s not every day we get to go through after two games.”
He said his third goal, which came from a Ruben Loftus-Cheek shot that deflected off the English captain’s heel into the net, “was one of the luckiest of my career”.
His three goals took him to the top of the World Cup Golden Boot scoring chart with five goals in two games ahead of the four scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku.
“It’s going well, there’s still a long way to go, the most important thing is winning games,” Kane said.
“There’s a lot of good players behind me, hopefully I can take it into Thursday’s game.”
Earlier, Kane told BBC TV he was “proud of the boys”.
“We knew it was going to be tough but it’s all coming together. It’s a brilliant result, fantastic to be through and to do it in this way is great.”
The Tottenham Hotspur striker said England fans were justified in dreaming of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1966.
“We’re not getting too ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to keep it going but, yes, you have to believe. If you want to achieve anything in life you have to believe.
“We’ve got to stick together, stick to our game plan.”