Kane on fire for England
Harry Kane scored a first half hat-trick as England romped towards the 2022 World Cup with a 5-0 thrashing of Albania, but Italy still has work to do to reach Qatar after a 1-1 draw with Switzerland.
England still needs a point to mathematically qualify when it visits San Marino on Monday, but boasts a three-point lead and six-goal advantage on goal difference over Poland, which sealed at least a playoff place with a 4-1 win over 10-man Andorra.
The Three Lions can look ahead to Qatar with confidence as they bounced back to form at Wembley in style with all the goals coming before half-time.
Harry Maguire put a difficult start to the season at club level behind him as the Manchester United captain opened the floodgates with a thumping header from Reece James’ free-kick.
Kane headed home Jordan Henderson’s cross from close range before turning provider for Henderson to calmly slot home his first international goal on home soil.
England was rampant in the first 45 minutes as Kane thrashed home his second from a narrow angle before completing his fourth international hat-trick in spectacular fashion with a scissor kick from Phil Foden’s corner.
European champion Italy maintained a narrow advantage over Switzerland at the top of Group C, but missed a glorious late chance to virtually secure qualification when Jorginho blazed a penalty over the bar.
The Chelsea midfielder has now missed six spot-kicks for club and country since the start of last season.
The visitors got off to a flying start in Rome when Silvan Widmer’s thunderous strike flew into the top corner.
The Azzurri levelled nine minutes before half-time thanks to a well-worked set-piece that was headed in by Giovanni Di Lorenzo.
Italy holds a two-goal advantage over the Swiss on goal difference heading into Sunday’s final games.
The results: Group C: Northern Ireland 1 (Satkus 18-og) bt Lithuania 0; Italy 1 (Di Lorenzo 36) drew with Switzerland 1 (Widmer 11).
Group F: Moldova 0 lost to Scotland 2 (Patterson 38, Adams 65); Denmark 3 (Skov Olsen 18, Bruun Larsen 63, Maehle 90+3) bt Faroe Islands 1 (Olsen 89); Austria 4 (Arnautovic 51-pen, Schaub 62, 72, Sabitzer 84) bt Israel 2 (Bitton 33, Peretz 59).
Group I: Andorra 1 (Vales 45) lost to Poland 4 (Lewandowski 5, 73, Jozwiak 11, Milik 45+2); Hungary 4 (Szoboszlai 6, 83, Gazdag 22, Vecsei 88) bt San Marino 0; England 5 (Maguire 9, Kane 18, 33, 45+2 Henderson 28) bt Albania 0.
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