Kane scores 80 seconds into England debut in qualifying win
LONDON (AP) — Harry Kane scored 80 seconds into his England debut on Friday, providing another astonishing moment in his breakthrough season in a 4-0 victory over Lithuania in European Championship qualifying.
The 21-year-old Kane replaced captain Wayne Rooney amid roars by expectant fans inside Wembley Stadium, and he delivered instantly by heading into an empty net in the 73rd minute.
“It’s not too bad,” Kane quipped. “It’s the start I dreamed of, it’s a little bit of a blur at the minute. ... It’s the best moment by far — to represent your country at senior level is the top.”
The Tottenham striker stole the limelight from Rooney, who went within two goals of Bobby Charlton’s England record 49 with his sixth-minute opener, and Raheem Sterling tapping in his first international goal. Danny Welbeck also scored as England made it five wins out of five in Group E, staying six points ahead of both Slovenia and Switzerland, who both won on Friday.
“A lot of teams around Europe will be looking at this team and taking notice,” said Rooney, whose team exited last year’s World Cup in the group stage.
If Kane maintains his stunning progress, he will be expected to play a big role in the Euro 2016 finals in France.
Although this season began with Kane on the fringes of the Tottenham squad, the England goal was his 30th for club and country in seven months.
“There’s been a lot of pressure and hype around him,” England coach Roy Hodgson said. “He produced a bit of magic ... and hopefully it’s the start of a long career for him.”
When England last played more than four months ago in Scotland, Kane wasn’t even being considered for a promotion from the under-21s. Back in November, Kane had scored once in the league. Eighteen goals later, Kane is the league’s joint-top scorer with Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
Despite the clamor for Kane to start, Hodgson retained his faith in Welbeck in a front three with Rooney and Sterling.
And they ensured it was a comfortable, powerful start by the hosts. After Rooney hit the post, Welbeck set up his captain for the opener in the sixth minute. A jinking run through the defense by Welbeck ended with a shot being parried by goalkeeper Giedrius Arlauskis, and Rooney headed in the follow-up.
What was surprising is that England took until the stroke of halftime to score again, with Welbeck’s header from Jordan Henderson’s cross deflected into the net.
Sterling’s first England goal came 58 minutes into his 14th international, as he tapped in from Rooney’s low cross.
The much-anticipated arrival of Kane came with around 20 minutes to go, and he scored with his third touch. Kane drifted to the far post unmarked to meet Sterling’s cross with a header.
“It’s fantastic, international football’s different and to score after 80 seconds is incredible for Harry,” Rooney said. “We’re all delighted and hopefully it’s the first of many.”
Elsewhere in Group E, Slovenia remained in the second automatic qualification place by routing bottom-placed San Marino 6-0.
Switzerland stayed third after beating Estonia 3-0, making it 11 goals without conceding on a three-game winning run. Xherdan Shaqiri helped to create first-half goals for Fabian Schaer and Granit Xhaka, and Haris Seferovic grabbed a late third.