Football: Harry Kane scores again as England win 1-0 in final qualifier

 Harry Kane (right) of England scores by penalty during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification soccer match on Oct 8, 2017
Harry Kane (right) of England scores by penalty during the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualification soccer match on Oct 8, 2017PHOTO: EPA

VINIUS, Lithuiania (REUTERS/AFP) - England rounded off an unbeaten World Cup qualifying campaign with Harry Kane's first-half penalty sealing an uninspiring 1-0 victory over Lithuania in rainy Vilnius on Sunday (Oct 9).

Kane converted from the spot in the 27th minute for his sixth goal in his last seven England matches after his Tottenham Hotspur team mate Dele Alli tumbled in the area under a clumsy challenge from Ovidijus Verbickas in the Group F match.

England, who qualified for a sixth successive World Cup finals on Thursday when Kane scored a last-gasp goal in a 1-0 defeat of Slovenia at Wembley, made several changes to their lineup but again failed to offer much excitement.

Despite overwhelming possession on the slick artificial surface they struggled to open up a resolute home side with chances few and far between in a drab encounter.

England, unbeaten in 21 World Cup qualifiers, finished top of Group F with 26 points from 10 matches.

Kane insists he isn't England's only hope of a successful run at next year's World Cup, even though he booked their place at the finals in Russia by scoring the only goal in a lacklustre 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday.

England's wretched display somehow ended on an upbeat note when Kane stretched to convert Kyle Walker's cross in stoppage-time.

 

The Tottenham striker, named England captain for the night, was one of the few players to emerge with any credit as he continued his hot streak.

Kane has followed up successive Premier League golden boots with a blistering run of 14 goals in nine games for club and country.

He has now struck 11 times in 22 appearances for his country and looks one of the only genuine world class talents available to Southgate.

But Kane is adamant England have enough quality in other positions to help him shoulder the burden in Russia.

"It isn't down to just me, it's down to the whole team," Kane said.

"We've all got to work together as a unit. I feel physically great, every game I expect to score so I have to keep it going.

"When you've got someone scoring goals it helps and hopefully I can continue that from now until then, we'll see what happens.

"But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself personally and I don't want the team to get too far ahead of themselves.

"I just have to keep doing what I'm doing for club and for country and see what happens next year. We can't put any limit on what we can achieve, we just have to go there and see what happens." England defender Gary Cahill was relieved to see Kane's latest display of predatory finishing put a flattering gloss on his team's spluttering display.

- 'Gushing with confidence' - .

But the Chelsea star agrees with Kane that England must get quality contributions from other areas for Southgate's men to have any chance of making a sustained run in Russia.

"He's in great form and he must be gushing with confidence," Cahill said.

"He must feel like he's going to score every time he takes the pitch. Not even one, it's like 'how many am I going to get today?' He must have that kind of mentality.

"But every good team has people who contribute all over the pitch. He's been fantastic for us but you don't want to go into a tournament with everything on Harry Kane.

"We want him to be in fantastic form but we want everyone to contribute. Going into the tournament we want everyone to have the kind of confidence he's showing at the minute.

"The fearless mentality - that's the way he is at the minute." After dismal early exits from Euro 2016 and the World Cup three years ago, there is little expectation that England will do better this time.

Even their fans seem to have given up after they spent most of the Slovenia qualifier entertaining themselves by throwing paper aeroplanes onto the pitch.

"From the fans' perspective, if you look at the last time we won anything for England it was a long, long time. So naturally they don't expect. But I'd like to think everyone is positive and behind us," Cahill said.

"I think to go into the latter stages would be looked on as a success if I'm being honest."