Football: Kane rescues England, Belgium held as World Cup build-up continues

England's Harry Kane scores their second goal from the penalty spot, against Switzerland, on March 26, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) – Harry Kane converted a late penalty to close in on the all-time England goal-scoring record and secure a 2-1 win over fellow World Cup qualifiers Switzerland on Saturday (March 26) while Belgium and Croatia were both held to draws.

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

Only Wayne Rooney, with 53 goals, has scored more times for England.

Breel Embolo put Switzerland ahead at Wembley after 22 minutes in a first half dominated by the visitors before Luke Shaw’s equaliser in first-half injury time.

Kane restored order with his 78th-minute winner but coach Gareth Southgate will hope this was just a rare blip from his Euro 2020 runners-up, who host Ivory Coast in another friendly on Tuesday.

“You have to be ready for any chance at any moment. Penalties are a great way of getting on the scoresheet, I practice and work on them a lot,” said Kane.

“It is amazing company to be with, super proud to be doing that but we look forward to the next one. A big year ahead to get more caps and more goals. I will be ready for Tuesday but it is down to the manager.”

Top-ranked Belgium led twice in Dublin but were still held 2-2 by Ireland.

Playing without the influential Kevin de Bruyne, who has been rested for the international window, Belgium took the lead after 12 minutes through Michy Batshuayi who swept past Seamus Coleman to beat Caoimhin Kelleher in the Irish goal.

Belgium's Michy Batshuayi in action with Republic of Ireland's Josh Cullen. PHOTO: REUTERS

Ireland, who missed qualification for the World Cup after finishing third in their group behind Serbia and Portugal, levelled in the 36th minute through Chiedozie Ogbene.

Belgium were back in front just before the hour mark thanks to a Hans Vanaken header.

However, substitute Alan Browne grabbed his side’s second equaliser with a powerful 86th-minute header.

In Doha, 2018 World Cup runners-up Croatia were held to a 1-1 draw by Slovenia.

Andrej Kramaric, who plays in Germany with Hoffenheim, gave Croatia the lead in the 39th minute but Jaka Bijol levelled in stoppage time for Slovenia.

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