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England subdue Swiss as Kane moves closer to goal record


London (AFP) – Harry Kane moved level with Bobby Charlton on England’s list of record goalscorers as the striker’s late penalty secured a 2-1 win against Switzerland in Saturday’s friendly at Wembley.

Kane netted from the spot to reach 49 England goals, moving him ahead of Gary Lineker and into a second place tie with Charlton.

Only Wayne Rooney, with 53 goals, has scored more times for the Three Lions and it would be little surprise if Kane broke the record later this year.

England captain Kane, who made his international debut seven years ago this month, has reached 49 goals in just 68 appearances, while Manchester United legend Charlton took 101 to hit that total.

While Kane admits he would love to break Rooney’s record, it is the World Cup winners’ medal earned by Charlton in 1966 that would mean the most to the Tottenham striker.

He will have a chance to end England’s long wait to get their hands on the trophy in Qatar later this year, but Gareth Southgate’s side still have plenty to work on after this erratic display.

With just eight months until the World Cup gets underway, Southgate used England’s first game of 2022 to experiment and the results were underwhelming for long periods.

Breel Embolo put Switzerland ahead in a first half dominated by the visitors before Luke Shaw’s equaliser.

Kane restored order with his winner but Southgate will hope this was just a rare blip from his Euro 2020 runners-up, who host Ivory Coast in another friendly on Tuesday.

Painfully lethargic in a tame opening, England were punished as Switzerland took the lead in the 22nd minute.

Xherdan Shaqiri whipped in a pin-point cross and Ben White misjudged the flight of the ball as Embolo got behind him, evading the slow to react Kyle Walker-Peters to plant a close-range header past Jordan Pickford.

Even that didn’t shake Southgate’s men from their funk and Fabian Frei’s rising drive from eight yards was tipped onto the crossbar by Pickford.

Southgate had warned it would be wrong to expect too much from a raw side featuring debutants in Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi and Southampton right-back Walker-Peters, while Conor Gallagher was making only his second appearance in midfield.

Arsenal’s Ben White replaced John Stones when the Manchester City defender was injured in the pre-match warm-up.

White joined Guehi and Conor Coady in England’s back three and their lack of international experience was often exposed by a lively Swiss side who have also qualified for the World Cup.

Shaqiri’s corner almost caught Pickford napping as it struck the base of the near-post, before the England keeper kept out Ricardo Rodriguez’s powerful strike.

England were so disjointed at the back that Harry Maguire, left on the bench after a poor season with Manchester United, strengthened his case to return without kicking a ball.

Lucky not to be further behind, England equalised in first half stoppage-time.

Frei’s sloppy pass was intercepted by Walker-Peters deep inside his own half and Gallagher’s delivery rolled to the edge of the area, where Shaw smashed a ferocious shot past Jonas Omlin.

Forgettable in the first half, England improved after the interval.

Kane finally got a sight of goal from Gallagher’s pass, but Omlin dashed off his line to block the striker’s shot.

Palace left-back Tyrick Mitchell came on for his debut on the hour in the culmination of a boyhood dream for a player who grew just a few miles from Wembley.

It was a day to remember for Kane as well thanks to his 78th minute winner.

Steven Zuber blocked Guehi’s header with his arm, an offence punished after a VAR check, and Kane stepped up to drill the penalty past Omlin. 

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