Updates as the Three Lions look for World Cup qualifying win

Nobody is foolish enough anymore to believe that England are well positioned to challenge for the World Cup.

It wouldn't exactly have fed the positive atmosphere that Southgate has been trying to foster, but then there was so little to be positive about with this performance until the late flurry.

Ryan Bertrand made it 2-0 five minutes from time with a deflected, long range drive that gave the visitors a rather flattering 2-0 scoreline.

Writing in his column on the official Sky Sports website, Nicholas is confident that Alli will notch up another goal against Malta this time around along with his Spurs teammate Kane.

England, playing in their first match since Wayne Rooney announced his global retirement, started with Joe Hart in goal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield, following his move to Liverpool from Arsenal on transfer deadline day.

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As ever with England, the bicep around which the captain's armband will be stretched is focusing attentions, with Kane and Jordan Henderson among those in contention to succeed Rooney as full-time skipper. Kane was next to threaten but the Tottenham striker's header was well parried away by Hogg. Moments after a scare when Andre Schembri's half volley whistled just wide of Hart's far post, the breakthrough thankfully came seven minutes into the second half with Dele Alli driving into the box, looking for room to shoot before sliding the ball inside to Kane who drilled home.

"His club have had a hard start to the season but he's been excellent", Southgate said.

After a disappointing first half, Southgate responded by introducing Marcus Rashford for the frustrated Sterling as he searched for a breakthrough.

However, Kane has failed to find the back of the net in the opening three matches, extending his incredible run of failing to score a goal in the month of August in the Premier League.

Malta, though, held firm in the face of sporadic England pressure until the end. Danny Welbeck added another in injury time from a Kane cross, then the number nine added another soon after while Malta's players chased him at half-pace in the hope he would kick the ball out as an opponent laid on the floor.

  • Tabitha Byrd