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16006/24/2018 17:09
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England thrashes Panama to reach last 16
England thrashes Panama to reach last 16

England qualified for the last 16 of the World Cup with a thumping 6-1 victory over Panama Sunday in a sweltering Nizhny Novgorod.

Harry Kane scored a hat-trick, John Stones grabbed a brace while Jesse Lingard also got his name on the score sheet as England dismantled its Central American opponents.

The result means Panama exits its debut World Cup at the group stage with one match still to play -- although there was the considerable consolation of a first ever goal at the tournament, that honor falling to 37-year-old defender Felipe Baloy.

For England, it was the first time it had scored four or more goals in a World Cup game since the victorious 1966 final against West Germany.

Gareth Southgate's side will now go toe-to-toe with Belgium to see who tops Group G on Thursday.

Much of the build up in England had focussed on the relationship between the team and the country's media. Pictures captured at an open training session appeared to show notes held by an England assistant revealing Sunday's team.

England manager Gareth Southgate questioned whether the English press actually wanted to help his side or its opponents. Although, he later said he understood the media was within its rights to report the news.

Panama coach, Hernan Dario Gomez, had no such qualms about revealing his thinking for Sunday's match. Gomez named his starting line-up 24 hours in advance.

"Los Canaleros" (The Canal Men) suffered a 3-0 defeat in its opening match in Belgium. And it looked eager to show its more illustrious opponents it was no soft touch.

Anibal Godoy had a sight of goal early on but couldn't keep his shot down when the opportunity presented itself on the edge of the England penalty area.

But that early optimism was not to last as the floodgates soon opened at the opposite end of the pitch.

Stones found himself wide open on the Panama penalty spot from a corner after eight minutes and bulleted a header low past goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.

Before long, it was two as Lingard went down in the box under pressure from Roman Torres and Fidel Escobar. Referee Ghead Grisha pointed to the spot and Harry Kane smashed the ball high past Penedo.

Lingard made it three on 35 minutes, curling home from the edge of the box. Stones then finished off a clever free kick move for England's fourth.

And before Panama could escape at the end of a torrid the first period, Kane had made it five. The Tottenham striker fired home another penalty after being wrestled unceremoniously to the ground in the box by Godoy.

The record World Cup finals win remains Hungary's 10-1 trouncing of El Salvador in 1982. But that score seemed like it could be under threat given the attacking mood England was in, allied with the defensive generosity of its opponents.

Alas, England took its foot off the gas in the second period. Kane was fortunate to secure his hat-trick as Ruben Loftus Cheek's shot deflected off the striker's heel and beyond the helpless Peneda.

There was, however, to be one last twist as Panama scored a late consolation and its first ever goal at a World Cup finals.

Felipe Baloy stretched to guide Ricardo Avila's cross beyond Jordan Pickford in the England goal. While it meant little in the context in the game, it meant plenty to the Panama fans in attendance who celebrated proudly despite the final result.

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