England are 2018 World Cup set-piece specialists

England are 2018 World Cup set-piece specialists

England are 2018 World Cup set-piece specialists

With a grin, Southgate explained to the BBC: "I'm being hyper-critical, but I didn't like the start".

"I congratulated him", the Panama boss said with a smile. But the bits in the middle were pretty good though.

"I just thought we were a little bit anxious at the start and it was a very hard challenge because [Panama had] six at the back and three in midfield, and they pressed well off of that".

Yet what Southgate has already shown is that if English players are given the licence to play in the way they do for their clubs, they can deliver the kind of intense and exciting football that makes the Premier League such a compelling competition. "I told him that I really like his team, England, and I said, "Look, we're going to play cool and calm now". For example, only two of England's six goals came from the run of play Sunday - as if that sort of thing matters, since set pieces play such a large role in big tournaments.

Lingard added the third in the 36th minute with a brilliant curling effort from 25 yards and, as Panama crumbled, Stones crowned a slick set-piece routine by heading his second and Kane made it 5-0 before half-time with another penalty after he was wrestled to the ground. The victor of the group, therefore, will be settled when they face each other in Kaliningrad on Thursday.

The scoreline meant England are joint on points and goal difference with Belgium, but ahead on their fair-play record. He also has 18 for England's national team, one more than Beckham.

The match against Panama marked England's biggest win ever at the World Cup finals, which secured a last 16 place for the Three Lions while Harry Kane, the captain of England and the man of the match, became the first England player scoring a World Cup hat-trick since Gary Lineker in 1986.

It was the first time England have scored more than four goals in a single game at a World Cup, and they will now play off with Belgium to decide who will top Group G.

England possess real threat up front but may need to shore up an attack-minded midfield against better opposition, and the defence - which has looked vulnerable on occasions - has yet to be seriously tested.

Later Sunday, Colombia produced an impressive performance to salvage their World Cup and send Poland crashing out of the tournament with a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina and Juan Cuadrado.

Some of England's players were able to spend Monday morning relaxing after their emphatic victory, with none of the side which started against Panama in Nizhny Novgorod taking part of the light session back at Zelenogorsk.

"First time in a long time since we've seen a hat-trick from England player in the World Cup, absolutely delighted for Harry and the team", tweeted Hurst. Panama did not seem to know about VAR - witness their wrestling grabs on Kane in particular - which cost them one penalty.

"I've heard talk of, 'Is it better to finish first or second?' I am not sure how we're going to work all of that out really so let's just go and enjoy the game again".

The third goal was "probably one of the luckiest ones of my career, " he said.

Previously, England had never won by more than three goals.

Panama pulled a goal back in the 78th minute through Felipe Baloy - the Central American nation's first goal at a World Cup.

8 - Only in 1966 (11) have England scored more goals in a single World Cup tournament than they have in 2018 (8 - also in 1954 and 1990).

Ultimately, though, the imbalance of talent was far too great.

Related news