England wins against Malta at Wembley
England secured a victory over Malta on Friday night, with a final score of 2-0 at Wembley Stadium. The team, led by manager Gareth Southgate, clinched the win thanks to an own goal by Enrico Pepe and a goal from Harry Kane. With this victory, England has now accumulated nineteen points from seven matches, guaranteeing their first-place finish in Group C.
Southgate fielded a lineup that featured many familiar faces. Alongside Kane, the starting eleven included players like Harry Maguire, Fikayo Tomori, Jordan Henderson, and Marcus Rashford. Notably absent from the starting lineup were players such as Bukayo Saka, Jack Grealish, Declan Rice, and Kyle Walker, who were all on the bench.
Malta's Defensive Efforts
Malta was determined to have a solid defense in the opening stages of the match to prevent an early deficit. However, their efforts were in vain as they inadvertently helped England take the lead through an own goal.
Around ten minutes into the game, Phil Foden outsmarted his direct opponent and attempted to pass the ball to Kane, who was positioned around the penalty spot. Unfortunately, it was Pepe who inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net, giving England a 1-0 lead. Despite falling behind early, Malta managed to reach halftime with the scoreline intact.
Second Half Changes
At the start of the second half, Southgate introduced Saka and Walker, and later Rice and Cole Palmer, who made his debut for the England national team. The second goal for England didn't come until the 75th minute.
Captain Kane found the net from close range, marking his 62nd goal in an England shirt. Rice believed he had scored a third goal a few minutes later, but the VAR (Video Assistant Referee) intervened to disallow the goal. There were no more goals in the closing stages of the match.
In the end, England emerged victorious with a 2-0 win over Malta, maintaining their position at the top of Group C. The team's performance showcased their strength and depth, even with some key players starting on the bench. The return of Bellingham closer to the Euro 2024 will give the team a huge boost.