Former captain Alan Shearer hailed England’s display in their thumping 6-1 World Cup win over Panama, describing it as “magnificent”.
Gareth Southgate’s men completely dominated the first half and raced into a 5-0 lead thanks to a brace each from Harry Kane and John Stones, while Jesse Lingard also found the net with a stunning effort into the top corner.
Kane completed his hat-trick when a shot from Ruben Loftus-Cheek deflected in off the Tottenham striker, taking him clear at the top of the competition’s scoring charts on five, before Felipe Baloy scored a consolation for Panama.
England have now qualified for the knockout stages alongside Belgium, who they face on Thursday night to determine the group winners.
Shearer said on BBC One: “A job very well done. We knew it would slow down in the second half, they could not keep that pace up. They looked after themselves, protected themselves in that second half, and were well within their rights to do that.
“A magnificent day, a magnificent performance. Every single one of them can go away and be very proud of it. The only down side was Raheem Sterling never got a goal, that would have been the perfect day, but everything was superb.”
Fellow BBC pundit Rio Ferdinand believes the future looks bright, saying: “I think we can be pleased. I think this England team is exciting a nation like no other team for probably 20 years. I know you can only beat what’s in front of you, but they’ve still gone and done it.
“There will be players now in this team who were thinking (before) they’re not sure of their starting place. After these first two performances, the likes of Lingard, (Kieran) Trippier, (Harry) Maguire, Stones – they’ll be sitting there saying ‘we are the mainstays of this team now’ and that builds confidence.”
Kane led from the front again with his treble, and Frank Lampard added on BBC One: “The development of him as a player, a leader – quite rightly captain of the team – he’s a world star, everyone knows him, but he just keeps producing. Nothing’s a problem for him.”
Ferdinand added: “He’s such a wonderfully balanced individual. He never gets too excited when things are going well and he never gets too down when things aren’t going so well.
“That allows him to have that inner confidence, and he goes in there and produces the goods week in, week out for his club and he’s now doing it as captain for his country.”
Shearer believes it could be a “life-changing” tournament for Kane if he wins the Golden Boot.
“I said on Monday that for some players this tournament could be life-changing,” said Shearer.
“He’s come into the tournament as Harry Kane but if he goes away as Harry Kane, World Cup Golden Boot winner, that’s life-changing for someone.”
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