England beat Kosovo in eight-goal thriller
However, a shoddy defensive display and the fearless approach of their opponents meant this turned into a night of concern for the manager, Gareth Southgate.
Kosovo arrived in Southampton on a 15-match unbeaten run and with confidence lifted by victory over the Czech Republic – and when Michael Keane’s error gifted Valon Berisha a goal inside the first minute they briefly contemplated a huge upset.
It did not last long as rampant England, inspired by the magnificent Raheem Sterling, responded ruthlessly with five goals inside the first 45 minutes on their way to making it four wins from four qualifiers.
Keane swiftly made amends to set up Sterling to head home after a corner then Manchester City’s unstoppable attacker set up captain Harry Kane for his 26th goal in 41 England appearances.
England extended their lead when Mergim Vojvoda turned Jadon Sancho’s cross into his own net before Borussia Dortmund’s 19-year-old got his first two goals for England, both expertly provided by Sterling.
As an occasionally chaotic encounter swung from end to end, Borisha’s fine finish reignited Kosovo’s hopes early in the second half before more awful defending from Manchester United’s Harry Maguire ended with him conceding a penalty, which Vedat Muriqi scored after he was brought down.
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