Harry Kane inspires England to World Cup knockout stage with Panama thrashing

England's Harry Kane celebrates scoring their second goal. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)
Updated 24 June 2018
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Harry Kane inspires England to World Cup knockout stage with Panama thrashing

  • Harry Kane struck a hat-trick as England demolished Panama 6-1
  • England recorded their biggest ever victory at a World Cup despite the heat of Nizhny Novogrod

NIZHNIY NOVGOROD: Harry Kane struck a hat-trick as England demolished Panama 6-1 on Sunday to ease into the World Cup last 16 alongside Group G rivals Belgium.
Kane, who now has five goals in Russia, leapfrogged Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku in the race for the Golden Boot as the Central Americans were sent packing along with Tunisia.
Belgium and England — who meet in Kaliningrad on Thursday to battle it out for top spot — both have six points after two games and are level on goal difference and goals scored.
England recorded their biggest ever victory at a World Cup despite the heat of Nizhny Novogrod.
Two penalties from Kane and two goals from John Stones, plus an impressive strike from Jesse Lingard, gave England an unassailable 5-0 lead at half-time.
Kane completed his hat-trick in the 62nd minute and was then taken off by Gareth Southgate, who was looking to preserve the energy of his captain with tougher challenges ahead.
Felipe Baloy, 37, scored the first goal ever for Panama at a World Cup to narrow the gap but it could not mask the vast gulf in quality between the two sides.
“I’m very proud. Not many players get to score a hat-trick in the World Cup,” said Kane, who is only the third player to score three goals in a World Cup match after Geoff Hurst and Gary Lineker for England.
“We have to enjoy this. It’s not every day we get to go through after two games.”
Southgate said he was pleased with the ruthlessness of his side.
“It was a different type of win to the other day (against Tunisia),” he said. “Then we had to go right to the wire and show qualities that are going to be really important to our resilience and sticking to our principles of play.”
Belgium hammered Tunisia 5-2 on Saturday, with two goals from both Lukaku and Eden Hazard.
In other games on Sunday, Japan can all but guarantee a place in the second round if they follow up their surprise opening defeat of Colombia by beating Senegal in Group H.
The Asian giants have vowed to take an aggressive approach against Senegal, who are spearheaded by Liverpool forward Sadio Mane.
Japan coach Akira Nishino said his team planned to mark Mane closely in Yekaterinburg.
“I am sure we can deal with him but with the contribution that Mane can make, it might be possible to mark him one on one or even three on one,” Nishino said.
“It is possible to stop him but the trouble is that he has influence too on other players, and that is what we are concerned about.”
Nishino said he had encouraged his team to chase victory in the second half against Colombia in their first game, and would adopt a similar approach against Senegal.
Poland and Colombia round off the second round of group matches in the late game in Kazan, both knowing they dare not lose if they want to retain any realistic hope of progressing.
Colombia coach Jose Pekerman has hinted that 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez could start against the Poles, who were beaten by Senegal in their opening game.
Rodriguez has been bothered by a calf injury which meant he started on the bench against Japan, but Pekerman indicated he may be ready to face Poland.
“His appearance off the bench last time out gave him some confidence,” Pekerman said.
“We’ve had to fine-tune a few little details but he’s been working hard in recent days and we’re hoping he’ll be 100 percent.”
World Cup holders Germany were breathing a sigh of relief after Toni Kroos’s 95th-minute missile secured a last-gasp 2-1 win over Sweden on a dramatic Saturday in Sochi.
But they are not out of the woods yet — to guarantee they have the chance to become the first team to successfully defend the title since Brazil in 1962, Germany must beat South Korea by a two-goal margin in Kazan.
Defender Mats Hummels said Kroos’s goal could be a turning point.
“Something like this can be a big moment in the tournament. But if we lose against South Korea or don’t make it to the next stage, the goal isn’t worth anything.”


Francesco Molinari looking for ‘dream’ end to season in Dubai at DP World Tour Championship

Updated 15 November 2018
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Francesco Molinari looking for ‘dream’ end to season in Dubai at DP World Tour Championship

  • 2018 has been an incredible year for Molinari
  • If Molinari wins this weekend, it would make him just the third player in history to win multiple Rolex Series events

LONDON: Francesco Molinari is looking to end a fairytale season by becoming the European No. 1 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, which starts today, and the first Italian to achieve the feat.
2018 has been an incredible year for Molinari, with a maiden Major victory in the Open Championship in July, which followed a first Rolex event victory at the BMW PGA Championship in May. He has also not missed a single cut this season, a run that extends over four years in regular European Tour events.
And in a glorious Ryder Cup for the Europeans, he became the first player from the continent to win five points out of five, while securing the winning point in his singles match against USA’s Phil Mickelson.
Speaking to journalists ahead of today’s tee-off, the Italian said: “It feels incredible, a new position for me, I’ve never been here in the past.
“I think it’s just a consequence and a sign of an incredible season. I would have never guessed that I would be here in this position if you told me in April or May this year but it’s been an incredible summer, topped by an unbelievable Ryder Cup.
“Really, it’s a dream season for me and it’s nice to be here in this position. Hopefully I’ll be able to close it out. I know it’s not going to be easy and I’m not making any assumptions but I’ll do my best on the course to do the job.
And when asked about his prospects of winning the Harry Vardon trophy this weekend, he said: “You can have the best week of your life and win one tournament but to win a competition that lasts throughout the season, with the amount of talent there is right now on the European Tour, is something really hard to do but it’s also still hard to figure out for me how I’m here in this position.”
Molinari needs to finish tied-fifth or better at the Jumeirah Golf Estates to seal the Race to Dubai crown, but Ryder Cup partner Tommy Fleetwood — the man he formed such a strong bond with in Paris — is the only man who can prevent him the perfect ending.
Victory for the Englishman on the Earth Course is the only way he can deny Molinari the title, but the Italian was full of praise for his “best friend” and would not begrudge Fleetwood if he successfully defended his Race to Dubai crown.
“I know we said this and we’re going to sound really cheesy but if I don’t win, I’d rather see him win than anyone else,” he said.
“We really are good friends and he’s had an amazing season. To think that he won last year and to come here, still with a chance to win two in a row, it’s incredible, really.
“So fair play to him. What I can say for me is that it’s been a great season and however it goes this week, I’m still going to have lots of great memories from all of what I’ve done this year, and probably the best memory is what we’ve done together with him in France.
“I can’t really be mad at him, even if he wins.”
If Molinari wins this weekend, it would make him just the third player in history to win multiple Rolex Series events and he praised the introduction of the European Tour’s prestige level of tournaments.
“There’s a few events that we target every year,” he said. “It’s great for us to have the opportunity to play in such special tournaments.
“Especially for guys like me, playing a home event in Italy that is part of the Rolex Series, just gives a completely new meaning to the Italian Open.”