England comfortably dismantled Malta on a chilly night at Wembley. Gareth Southgate’s men saw off their opponents to move up to 19 points in their group, having already qualified for EURO 2024 in October.
Here are five things we learned from the game
England enter Pot One after victory
With England already safely qualified for Euro 2024, not much was riding on the game against Malta. The only notable quirk was that England would secure themselves a ball in Pot One for the Euro 2024 draw if they beat one of Malta or North Macedonia. The draw takes place at the beginning of December, victory now means England will now have a more favourable group when they kick-off their Euro 2024 campaign in June.
Southgate trusts Trent in midfield
Not for the first time in his England career, Trent Alexander-Arnold has occupied a role in England’s midfield. Wearing the number ten, the Liverpool right-back was once again given licence to play in a midfield three alongside Conor Gallagher and Jordan Henderson. Alexander-Arnold had a comfortable evening for the three lions. It now bodes the question as to whether England should persist with the 25 year old for next summer’s tournament.
VAR confusion as Kane and England denied pen
Just before the half hour mark, a loose pass in the Maltese box let Harry Kane in. The Bayern Munich striker fell to the ground after an coming together with Malta’s goalkeeper Henry Bonello. What looked to the naked eye like a penalty, the referee stunned Wembley, judging that Kane had dived. The former Spurs striker was booked to his dismay. The replays clearly showed there was contact from Bonello on Kane, but VAR did not intervene, and the decision was not overturned. England were denied a penalty, and Kane was wrongfully booked.
Declan Rice came off the bench and added a third for England, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR, which begs the question; why was VAR not used to check the alleged foul on Harry Kane?
Cole Palmer makes first senior appearance
Cole Palmer has caught the eye of many since making his move from Manchester City to Chelsea. The attacking midfielder was originally called up to the England Under-21s, but after England were struck with a couple of injuries, Gareth Southgate decided to call up Palmer.
He was introduced into the fold on the hour mark, replacing Marcus Rashford and wore the number 21 shirt. There is real competition in that area of the pitch for England, but if Palmer can continue to impress in a Chelsea shirt, there is an outside chance he may make it onto the plane for Germany.
A fitting tribute to Sir Bobby Charlton
The footballing world was in mourning when Sir Bobby Charlton died last month. He was one of England’s most celebrated players, as tributes came flooding in from around the country. Wembley had its chance to pay respects to Sir Bobby, England’s first game since his sad passing.
The 81,000 strong England crowd took part in a touching tribute before kick-off which included a montage of his playing career and life after his retirement. The players, coaching staff and crowd held a emotional minutes applause for one of football’s great men. England did Sir Bobby proud on the night with a convincing win. Rest In Peace, Sir Bobby Charlton.