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`Underperforming’ England nip Lithuania, thanks again to Kane, to finish qualifiers unbeaten


Harry Kane saved the day for England again, this time in Lithuania.

The Three Lions relied on his 27th-minute penalty shot to gain a 1-0 win at Vilnius Stadium on Monday.

It was enough to end their World Cup qualifying campaign on an unbeaten note despite another lacklustre showing.

The in-form Kane struck in off the post, his ninth goal in five games for club and country, after midfielder Dele Alli was brought down in the box by playmaker Ovidijus Verbickas.

Kane, playing as captain, also became the hero when England escaped past Slovenia 1-0 on Thursday.

England had many chances to score but were did not have much luck.

The victory against Slovenia allowed Gareth Southgate room to test new players, with Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire and Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Winks given their debuts.

Winks had a shot sopped. Other sorry chances were when Aaron Cresswell’s header was saved and Michael Keane fired wide from the edge of the box.

Towards the end, Keane’s attempted clearance was on the way to the bottom corner until it was saved by Jack Butland.

England clinched their place at the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a game to spare.

Gareth Southgate’s men finished Group F unbeaten record in 10 matches.

They have not lost a qualifier for either the World Cup or European Championship since 2009.

And so, no matter what their critics say, the Three Lions will be heading to Russia.

Who knows, they might be a different squad — full of energy, more focused and packing plenty of luck– come the real deal?