John Stones (1st R) of England heads the ball to score during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group G match between England and Panama in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, June 24, 2018. (Xinhua/Cao Can)
A hat-trick from Harry Kane helped England crash Panama 6-1 in the World Cup Group G game at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Sunday.
The match against Panama marked England's biggest win ever at the World Cup finals, which secured a last 16 place for the Three Lions while Harry Kane, the captain of England and the man of the match, became the first England player scoring a World Cup hat-trick since Gary Lineker in 1986.
For Panama, the Central America country harvested the first World Cup finals goal in its second match.
England, playing a 3-5-2 formation, took the lead eight minutes into the match with a header from John Stones.
In the 20th minute, England's midfielder Jesse Lingard was pushed over from behind by the Panamanian defender in the box and Tottenham Hotspur striker Kane slammed the penalty into the top left corner of the net.
The Three Lions controlled the game and had a third goal in the 36th minute as Lingard made a right footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner.
Just after 4 minutes, England won a free-kick and extended the lead again. Trippier sent the ball to Jordan Henderson and he curled a delivery to the back post for Kane to nod on. The Panama goalkeeper made a fine close-range save. However, Stones was on the spot to make a header to make it 4-0.
At the end of the first half, another penalty was awarded to England as Kane was pulled down inside the box. The captain converted the penalty with a right footed shot to the top left corner, which was almost the same as his first one.
England experienced a dream first half and won a biggest half-time lead at this World Cup in Russia.
England coach Gareth Southgate thought that his men's performance was "ruthless" and expressed great satisfaction with the result of the match. He even said from his point of view, the game was done when the first half ended.
Paces slowed down in the first 15 minutes of the second half. However, a fluke goal gave the Three Lions a bigger lead. In the 63rd minute, Ruben Loftus-Cheek's long-range shot hit Kane and was deflected into the Panama net.
Kane completed a World Cup hat-trick and leads the scorers' standings with five goals from two matches.
Kane considered the third goal as "one of the luckiest goals of my career", but he also said "as a striker, you go through spells when you're scoring, sometimes they don't fall for you. So far, it's been going my way, so hopefully that continues."
The Panamanians got their consolation goal in the 78th minutes when 37-year old defender Felipe Baloy slammed a right footed shot from the center of the box which is the Central American country's first World Cup finals goal.
The Panama head coach Hernan Gomez hailed for the goal, saying he "felt very moved" at that moment.
"He's a player who will be retiring from the national team and God gave him the opportunity to score that goal because of the way he conducts himself in football and he's such a professional," he added.
FIFA statistics showed that England made 12 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while Panama made eight. Ball possession was 58 percent for England and 42 percent for Panama.
Around 43,000 spectators attended Sunday's match at the 45,000-seat Nizhny Novgorod Stadium.
For the final round of the group stage, England and Belgium will meet in Kaliningrad on June 28 to determine who will be the top of Group G.
Southgate noted that England must continue to perform like a top team and "show qualities that are going to be really important to our resilience and sticking to our principles of play."