Jadon Sancho off the mark for England in thriller against Kosovo

Jadon Sancho on Tuesday became the first England player born in the year 2000 or later to score an international goal, and the first teenager since Wayne Rooney in 2004 to score a brace wearing Three Lions on his shirt. 

The goals were comparatively simple affairs, scored within the space of two minutes on the stroke of half time. Both were created by excellent work from his veteran colleague on the other flank, man-of-the-match Raheem Sterling, who allowed Sancho to tap into an empty net for his second.

“It was a crazy game, five goals and I’m happy to get two of them,” Sancho said. “It was a great comeback, how we responded was really good.”

Jadon Sancho of England scores the fourth goal against Kosovo. (picture-alliance/Offside/M. Leech )

Sacnho’s first finish resembled many of his Bundesliga goals for Dortmund, a calm, side-footed low shot past the keeper from close range

Arguably Sancho’s most critical contribution on the night was his own work down the right flank, crossing low and forcing Kosovo defender Mergim Vojvoda to concede an own goal, at that point making the score 3-1. Officially, though, that one won’t go down as the assist the Dortmund youngster probably deserved. Sancho’s employers in Dortmund had a close eye on the game after their young charge was given a second start in an England shirt. 

Read more:  Former England international John Barnes: Jadon Sancho needs to ‘go into the real world’

Eight-goal thriller

With many traveling fans on hand, the atmosphere at the St. Mary’s Stadium in Southampton was lively. And the match itself was a rollercoaster, finishing 5-3 and quite possibly concerning England manager Gareth Southgate, who had been forced to make changes at the back owing to injury.

Kosovo's Bersant Celina celebrates his side's first goal during the Euro 2020 group A qualifying soccer match between England and Kosovo at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, England, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Dunham)

Valon Berisha actually opened the scoring for Kosovo, but Bersant Celina celebrated his interception and assist to create the early goal with gusto

Kosovo’s Valon Berisha opened the scoring after just 35 seconds following a calamitous error by center back Michael Keane on the edge of his own box. England’s attack of Harry Kane, Sterling and Sancho then ran riot, establishing a 5-1 lead for England at the break. England faltered again after the restart, though, conceding a pair in quick succession. Harry Kane, usually as reliable as an AK-47 from 11 yards, then squandered the chance to categorically put the game out of Kosovo’s reach from the penalty spot. Some fans quipped online that this was karmic, that Sancho should have been given a shot at a hat trick instead of England’s captain and regular penalty taker.

“A bizarre game,” England manager Southgate told British broadcaster ITV after the game. “I’m really pleased with the composure we showed to come back from an early mistake. But we need to play better, the players don’t need me to tell them that.” 

Kosovo’s impassioned manager Bernard Challandes had talked at length before the game about his desire to see aggressive, pressing football, even against a top-class opponent. In truth, Kosovo may have stuck too rigidly to this game plan, allowing England ample chance to make amends after conceding so early.

Four wins in four, Kosovo’s run at an end

England move to the top of Group A with that win, with a perfect record of four wins in four. Kosovo, still a contested country after its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, and only accepted as a FIFA member in 2016, sit third in the group with eight points from five matches. A remarkable 15-game unbeaten run, for a country with a population of less than 2 million, also came to an end on Tuesday in Southampton.

The Czech Republic moved past Kosovo into second in Group A courtesy of a 3-0 win in Monenegro.

Elsewhere in European qualifying action on Tuesday, Cristiano Ronaldo bagged four goals for Portugal in a 5-1 rout of Lithuania. 

  • Kai Havertz, 20, Bayer Leverkusen (imago)

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    Kai Havertz, 20, Bayer Leverkusen

    The standout star of Germany’s next generation, Havertz has already racked up 88 top flight appearances, scoring 24 goals. He’s technically superb, strong with both feet and capable of finding space as well as both scoring and creating. Havertz has said he will remain at Leverkusen this season but it seems only a matter of time before he moves on. Bayern Munich are long-term suitors.

  • Jadon Sancho, 19, Borussia Dortmund (picture-alliance/KIRCHNER/D. Inderlied)

    Bundesliga: The young stars to watch in 2019-20

    Jadon Sancho, 19, Borussia Dortmund

    Once a curiosity as an Englishman playing in Germany, Sancho is now something of a trailblazer, with plenty of other young Brits following suit. The former Manchester City winger has great balance, decision-making talent beyond his years, speed and composure. After being eased in to the first team in 2017-18, he was one of the stars of last season, scoring 12 league goals with 17 assists.

  • Dayot Upamecano, 20, RB Leipzig (Getty Images/M.Kern)

    Bundesliga: The young stars to watch in 2019-20

    Dayot Upamecano, 20, RB Leipzig

    The French center back (above left) is another who looks destined for the top. An imposing figure, Upamecano is dominant in the air and reads the game well. He can also bring the ball into midfield and, despite lapses of concentration that often come with the territory for young defenders, has become a mainstay of the league’s tightest defense. Julian Nagelsmann should be an ideal coach for him.

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    Ibrahima Konate, 20, RB Leipzig

    Another RB Leipzig center back who is similarly dominant, both in the air and on the ground. Konate enjoyed a superb season last time out and stepped up a notch after Upamecano’s late-season injury. The French youngster described Upamecano as “like a brother to me” and the pair will be hoping to develop their partnership this term.

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    Alphonso Davies, 18, Bayern Munich

    The Canadian winger was born in a refugee camp and joined Bayern in January. A string of substitute appearances totalling 74 minutes followed, enough time for Davies to score his first goal, against Mainz. The departures of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben may offer Davies more opportunities this year – especially after the injury to Bayern target Leroy Sane.

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    Marcus Thuram, 21, Gladbach

    The son of French World Cup winner Lillian joined the Foals in July after impressing with French clubs Sochaux and Guingamp. Unlike his father, one of the best defenders of his generation, Marcus is an attacking player comfortable on the left wing or upfront. Tall and strong, Thuram is also a direct dribbler and may be asked to fill the boots of Thorgan Hazard, who has moved to Borussia Dortmund.

  • Weston McKennie, 20, Schalke (Getty Images/AFP/M. Antonov)

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    Weston McKennie, 20, Schalke

    A rare bright spot in a dark season for Schalke, McKennie spent the summer captaining the USA to the final of the Gold Cup despite his tender years. Most comfortable as a tenacious ball-winning midfielder, McKennie played in several positions last season as Domenico Tedersco searched for a winning formula he never found. Fellow US international David Wagner’s appointment was welcomed by McKennie.

  • Evan N'Dicka, 19, Eintracht Frankfurt (picture-alliance/dpa/Eintracht Frankfurt)

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    Evan N’Dicka, 19, Eintracht Frankfurt

    Another Frenchman, N’Dicka went under the radar slightly with Frankfurt’s prolific front three stealing the limelight in their remarkable campaign. But the center back was excellent in the second half of the season, winning the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Month award (for under 23s) in February and a nomination for the yearly award. Smart and decisive, a big season could be in store.

  • Josh Sargent, 19, Werder Bremen (picture-alliance/sampics/C. Pahnke)

    Bundesliga: The young stars to watch in 2019-20

    Josh Sargent, 19, Werder Bremen

    The American striker made an instant impact last season, heading in just two minutes after coming off the bench for his debut. He ended the season with two league goals from just 205 minutes and, despite Sargent missing out on the US Gold Cup squad, Bremen coach Florian Kohfledt is impressed. “He’s so good in the area, if you get the ball in the box you always think it could work,” he said.

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    Bundesliga: The young stars to watch in 2019-20

    Jann-Fiete Arp, 19, Bayern Munich

    After choosing to join Bayern a year earlier than he could have from second-tier Hamburg, the German striker will be hoping to get some first-team action this campaign when the champions look to ease the load on Robert Lewandowski. A natural poacher, Arp made headlines by scoring in his first two professional appearances, but struggled in the 2nd Bundesliga last term. It’s a big step up.

  • Tyler Adams RB Leipzig (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Kahnert)

    Bundesliga: The young stars to watch in 2019-20

    Tyler Adams, 20, RB Leipzig

    The third North American and the third Leipzig man in this group, Adams arrived at RB from their New York branch in January and looked immediately comfortable in the hustle and bustle of a Bundesliga central midfield. Strong in the tackle, a perceptive passer and with a wise head on his shoulders, Adams is a real all-rounder who can play at the base of midfield or a little farther forward.

  • Ademola Lookman, 21, RB Leipzig (picture alliance/AP Photo/J. Meyer)

    Bundesliga: The young stars to watch in 2019-20

    Ademola Lookman, 21, RB Leipzig

    One of those Englishman to follow in Sancho’s footsteps, Lookman enjoyed a productive loan spell with Leipzig in 2018. The rapid forward can play across the front line and has an eye for goal, scoring five times in his 574 Bundesliga minutes. But after just two Premier League starts last term, Everton allowed Lookman to rejoin the German side permanently this summer. Big things are expected.

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    About to enter the second of two seasons on loan from Real Madrid, the fullback enjoyed a spectacular start to his BVB career, notching a goal and providing three assists in his firts five games. Comfortable on both sides of the pitch and currently better going forward than defending, Hakimi’s season was ended by a metatarsal fracture in April.

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    Bundesliga: The young stars to watch in 2019-20

    Rabbi Matondo 18, Schalke

    The Welsh flyer has followed Sancho’s path from Manchester City to the Ruhr region and will hope to make a similar impact. Judged as the fastest player in City’s ranks, Matondo managed just a handful of substitute appearances after joining Schalke last year. “This opportunity – I couldn’t say no to it so it had to be done,” he said on arrival. The winger will hope for even more chances in 2019-20.

    Author: Matt Pearson


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