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Sunday 17 November 2019

England recover to put in five-star display

Montenegro 1 England 5 (EURO 2020 Group A qualifier)

Raheem Sterling scores England's fifth goal in Podgorica last night. Photo: Getty Images
Raheem Sterling scores England's fifth goal in Podgorica last night. Photo: Getty Images

England's impressive start to Euro 2020 qualification continued with a first ever win in Montenegro, but the 5-1 victory was overshadowed by racist chanting.

Just 72 hours after kicking off their European Championship journey by hitting five without reply against the Czech Republic, the Three Lions continued their Group A campaign in Podgorica at what has previously been an unhappy hunting ground.

Marko Vesovic's early strike had the hosts dreaming, but Ross Barkley's brace along with Michael Keane, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling efforts sealed the three points at the Gradski Stadion.

The latter made a gesture with his ears towards the Montenegro fans after scoring and there were monkey chants aimed at Danny Rose towards the end. It was a despicable end to a night that saw the Three Lions win back-to-back games by five goals or more for the first time since 1984 as Southgate's decision to turn to young talent paid off.

Declan Rice looked comfortable enough on his first start and Callum Hudson-Odoi recovered from a nervy opening in impressive fashion on the night he became the second-youngest player to start a competitive match for his country.

The 18-year-old and then Keane were culpable of failing to clear the ball as Vesovic opened the scoring, but both recovered impressively.

The latter rose to head home his first England goal from a free-kick sent in by Barkley, who turned home after a shot from Hudson-Odoi.

Barkley slammed home a second and Kane turned in a cross on the break from Sterling, who gestured with his ears towards the home fans after latching onto an exquisite Jordan Henderson through ball.

p Olivier Giroud once again proved invaluable for France, netting his 35th international goal as the world champions demolished Iceland 4-0 at home in their second Euro 2020 qualifier last night.

Giroud added to Samuel Umtiti's early opener in the second half before Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann rounded off a routine win to put France on six points in Group H. p Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo was forced off the pitch with an apparent hamstring problem during their 1-1 Euro 2020 qualifier at home to Serbia last night.

The 34-year-old pulled up after sprinting for the ball and was replaced with Serbia leading 1-0 through a Dusan Tadic penalty, before Danilo Pereira equalised for Portugal on 42 minutes.

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