Raheem Sterling's comments on racism will be seen as a milestone and have already affected media reporting, according to Fare executive director Piara Power.

Manchester City attacker Sterling's decision to speak out after he was racially abused in a Premier League game at Chelsea in December 2018 was praised by the chief of Fare, an organisation dedicated to combating inequality in football.

The England international argued the way the media reports about young black players contributes to racism in society, with Powar believing the point has been taken on board.

"I think what Raheem did there was very important," Powar told Omnisport. "He was racially abused at Chelsea and rather than go after the perpetrators, or focus on that incident, he knew the world had seen it and put out something, an analysis, which I think was quite stunning.

"And one of the wider reasons as to why, perhaps, he's being racially abused. And he linked it to the media and the differential treatment of two players because of their race. And, I think, what's happened there is that I've noticed that actually that's had an impact on the media.

"Many of the media now are also taking on the point that they're not diverse enough. You see now some new appointments being made in newspapers, sports rooms, the newsrooms of sports sections. You see now many of the broadcasters are also keen to make sure that they have diversity.

"And it is interesting. I think Raheem's comments will be seen as a milestone in the future - that doesn't meant that things have been resolved overnight, or that they are perfect, but I think that is fundamentally a big point."

Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was a victim of alleged racist abuse this season, with the Belgium international subjected to monkey noises as he prepared to take a penalty in a Serie A game at Cagliari.

The Sardinian club has a record of similar such incidents but avoided punishment from the league.

"I would say 10 years ago, maybe 15, 20 years ago the Romelu Lukaku incident would have been just another one that takes place every week," Powar added.

"But that's quite correct, we should have a sense of crisis around these incidents, just because of the nature of them, what people are saying, what it means, what the message means.

"We've never been clearer in our understanding of what to racially abuse someone in that way means to them individually and to their community.

"In Italy they've always had a problem because there's never been a systemic way of addressing it, there's never been a systemic programme to address the problems they have. They have a heavy-handed policing approach, which puts fans on the defensive.

"They have crumbling stadiums, so people are going to stadiums which are not very welcoming, where they don't feel like they're being treated as human beings. And then you have a lack of understanding generally, which has been exacerbated by the government they have for the last two or three years.

"In Italy there's a very big public debate about African migrants in particular, because of the Mediterranean crossings from North Africa. And much of that debate has been very negative, led by the government.

"Again, that's going to end up being felt inside stadiums and the response to it until now has been characterised by the administrators – [the] FA, Serie A – really not understanding what they should do and then being frightened of upsetting the government, being seen to take a counter-position to the government. So very complicated things in Italy that go back a long way.

"I've got friends who play high-level football in Italy and they say 10, 15, 20 years ago it was exactly the same. It just doesn't seem to have caught up with other countries in the top five leagues in western Europe, and it's causing us quite a lot of problems at the moment."

Real Madrid have set their sights on Mauricio Pochettino to be their next coach and they are also interested in a Premier League star, according to reports.

Pochettino has regularly been linked with a move away from Tottenham, where he has impressed since taking charge in 2014.

And the LaLiga giants are said to be eyeing the Argentinian amid pressure on Zinedine Zidane.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID EYEING POCHETTINO, STERLING

Real Madrid are ready to make an approach for Pochettino, according to The Mirror.

The Tottenham manager will be Madrid's top target if they decide to replace Zidane, the report says.

Madrid eased the pressure on Zidane with a 1-0 win at Sevilla on Sunday, moving them level on points with LaLiga leaders Athletic Bilbao.

Meanwhile, The Athletic reports Madrid met with Manchester City star Raheem Sterling's representatives during the off-season and the attacker is keen to play for the LaLiga giants one day, while the Premier League champions are confident the England international will stay.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United have made a poor start to the season, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to get backing in January. The Daily Mail reports United will back Solskjaer if he wants to strengthen his team, who are eighth in the table.

- Needing to bolster their defence, Juventus could make a move for Paris Saint-Germain full-back Thomas Meunier in January, according to Tuttosport. A deal could include midfielder Emre Can heading to Paris.

- Previously linked with Manchester United, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is set to renew his contract at Lazio, according to Il Messaggero. The deal, to be worth €3m per season, will reportedly be done by December.

- Mario Mandzukic is still unsure about his future. Tuttosport reports clubs in Qatar are still trying to sign the Juventus striker, but the Croatian may instead wait for a move to the Premier League in January.

- Italy youth international Sandro Tonali is catching the eye at Brescia. AC Milan and Manchester United are monitoring the 19-year-old midfielder, according to Calciomercato.

- Staying at Milan, Calciomercato says the Serie A giants are still looking at PSV forward Donyell Malen. The 20-year-old Netherlands international has scored seven goals in six Eredivisie games this season.

Megan Rapinoe called on her fellow professional footballers to make the most of a "unique" opportunity to "change this world forever" during her acceptance speech at The Best FIFA Awards.

After collecting the women's individual honour at the ceremony in Milan on Monday, Rapinoe used the platform to speak out about some of the notable issues in the modern game.

The United States international declared how she had been inspired by Raheem Sterling and Kalidou Koulibaly after the pair stood up to incidents of racism, as well as referencing other events that have highlighted the homophobia and inequalities that still exist within football.

Rapinoe finished by calling on those in attendance, as well as those watching on, to capitalise on the platform provided by the sport to make a difference for the future.

"Some of the stories that have inspired me the most this year: Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, their incredible performances on the field but the way that they have taken on the disgusting racism that they have had to face this year, but probably throughout their whole lives," the 34-year-old said.

"The young Iranian woman who eventually set herself on fire because she was not able to go to the game, the one 'out' MLS player and the countless other 'out' LGBTQ female players who fight so hard not just to play the sport that they love but also to fight the rampant homophobia that we have.

"Those were all the stories that inspired me so much, but they also made me a little bit sad and a bit disappointed.

"I feel like that if we really want to have meaningful change, what I think is most inspiring is if everyone other than Raheem Sterling and Koulibaly, if they were so outraged about racism as they were.

"If everybody else was that outraged as the LGBTQ players, if everybody was outraged by the equal pay, or lack there of, or the lack of investment in the women's game, that would be the most inspiring thing to me.

"We have such an incredible opportunity being professional football players, so much success – financial and otherwise – we have incredible platforms. I ask everyone here to lend your platform to other people, lift them up and share your success.

"We have a unique opportunity in football, different to any other sport in the world, to use this beautiful game to change this world forever.

"I hope you take that to heart, do something, anything. We have incredible power in this room."

Rapinoe secured The Best award for the first time in her career, edging out fellow nominees Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze after winning the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the Women's World Cup in France.

The Premier League confirmed on Friday it is in talks with representatives from Twitter over the "discriminatory and hateful conduct" that has led to the abuse of numerous players, including Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba and Tammy Abraham over recent weeks.

Officials from the EFL and the FA also attended a meeting with bosses from the social media platform to discuss the problem of users aiming racist abuse at footballers.

Manchester City star Raheem Sterling has been among those leading calls for English football's governing bodies to take action to combat racism in the game, and the Premier League indicated that talks with Twitter would continue with the aim of tackling the problem online.

A statement on the Premier League's official website read: "The Premier League, EFL and FA met Twitter today [Friday] with respect to the ongoing concerns surrounding discriminatory and hateful conduct taking place on the platform.

"The meeting was productive and positive, and gave both the football authorities and Twitter an opportunity to examine some of the specific issues around this unacceptable behaviour both online and offline.

"All parties agreed to take these constructive discussions forward."

Manchester United and England defender Harry Maguire previously used the platform to call for an authentication process to be put in place to combat the problem.

After hateful language was directed at Pogba, Maguire posted: "Disgusting. Social media need to do something about it."

Rashford also reacted at the time, saying: "Enough now, this needs to stop. Manchester United is a family.

"Paul Pogba is a huge part of that family. You attack him you attack us all."

Barcelona great Xavi believes Raheem Sterling is on course to emerge as the world's best player when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo leave centre stage.

Manchester City star Sterling has started the new season in scintillating fashion, scoring eight times for club and country.

His goal return and overall effectiveness has markedly improved with Pep Guardiola's guidance and the 24-year-old is now one of the first players chosen for the Premier League champions.

Sterling won Europe's Golden Boy award in 2014 - given to the continent's brightest young talent - and Xavi thinks the England international is on course to replace Messi and Ronaldo at the front of the queue for further honours.

Xavi told The Mirror: "Messi is the best ever for me, and even though they're both still playing at a very high level, there will come the day not so long away when somebody else must step into those shoes.

"You look at young players who can be crowned the future best in the world and you still think of Neymar, [Kylian] Mbappe, [Mohamed] Salah and of course Sterling. I look at the moment and Sterling is winning that race.

"He's always been a good player, a dangerous player, but under Pep he [has] become one of the best in the world.

"I know how Pep works - he would have worked closely with him since his arrival - where he needs to improve and what he needed to work on.

"We're now seeing the results of that. He's still young and can be the world's best."

Barca captain Messi, 32, and Juventus forward Ronaldo, 34, have dominated the game's top awards for the past decade, winning the Ballon d'Or five times apiece since 2008.

One of the more interesting subplots of any Premier League season is the race for the Golden Boot.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah were joint recipients of the title last season after all finishing on 22 goals.

That figure could be comfortably exceeded this time around, with a number of familiar names – such as Aubameyang, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling – starting the campaign in prolific form.

They are joined at the top of the scoring charts by two players who excelled in the Championship last season: Tammy Abraham and Teemu Pukki.

Using Opta data, we take a closer look at the records of those five in the opening five games of the season and compare their stats from the same period in the 2018-19 campaign.  

 

SERGIO AGUERO (MANCHESTER CITY) - SEVEN GOALS

Aguero has started the season in blistering form and sits atop the scoring charts with Abraham on seven goals.

It is a marked improvement on his tally of three at the same stage last season; a period in which he played an additional 32 minutes.

It is little surprise that Aguero is finding the net regularly, given his superb record since joining City in 2011, but it is his ruthless efficiency this season that has caught the eye. The Argentina international's seven goals have come from just eight shots on target.

Aguero has been far from selfish so far this term, however, carving out seven chances for his team-mates; one of which has been dispatched.

TAMMY ABRAHAM (CHELSEA) - SEVEN GOALS

Chelsea's transfer ban might well have forced Frank Lampard to use Abraham more than he had planned, but the 21-year-old has well and truly taken his chance.

His electric beginning to the campaign is in contrast to a comparatively sluggish start to life on loan with Aston Villa in the Championship last season where he scored just twice in the club's opening five games.

He has played 80 minutes fewer in the top flight so far this season but has scored seven goals from just eight shots on target.

His hat-trick against Wolves at the weekend made him the third player in Premier League history to score two or more goals in three consecutive appearances aged 21 or younger.

TEEMU PUKKI (NORWICH CITY) - SIX GOALS

The Finland international has been one of the surprise packages of the season, plundering six goals for the newly promoted Canaries.

He scored a whopping 29 goals to help his side win promotion last season but started slowly, scoring just two goals in his first five appearances.

There has been no such slumber at the start of this campaign, however.

He took just three shots in his opening five games last season, but Daniel Farke's aggressive approach to life in the top flight has clearly benefited Pukki, who has already attempted 12 shots.

PIERRE-EMERICK AUBAMEYANG (ARSENAL) - FIVE GOALS

It is hardly a surprise that the Gunners striker is among the deadliest strikers so far this season.

Since his Premier League debut in February 2018, only Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (53) has been directly involved in more goals in the competition (37 goals and nine assists).

The bad news for defences across the country is that he might be getting even more prolific.

He scored just once in his opening five games last season, but his brace against Watford on Sunday means he already has five to his name this campaign. Given that start, it will not be a surprise to see him comfortably surpass last season's tally of 22 goals.

RAHEEM STERLING (MANCHESTER CITY) - FIVE GOALS

Sterling set his stall out this season with a hat-trick in City's resounding opening day victory over West Ham.

It marked the continuation of a stunning few seasons for the former Liverpool man, who is now firmly considered to be one of the Premier League's deadliest finishers.

With 49 touches in the opposition box already this season – 18 more than his nearest rival in the top five – it is hardly surprising that he has five goals to his name; two more than he had in the same period last term.

He has also been a consummate team player, laying on eight chances for his team-mates.

Manchester City will do all they can to help Raheem Sterling get to the same level as "absolute legends" Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, says Pep Guardiola.

The England international has been in outstanding form in the early stages of the 2019-20 season, following on from two highly productive campaigns that saw him score 35 league goals as City won back-to-back Premier League titles.

Sterling also found the net in Euro 2020 qualifying wins over Bulgaria and Kosovo while away on international duty, though Guardiola played down comparisons to superstars Messi and Ronaldo ahead of his side's clash with Norwich City.

Still, the Spaniard sees no reason why the former Liverpool forward, 24, should not have ambitions to match the lofty standards set by the duo.

"Right now he is not in that level, I wish maybe in the future," Guardiola told the media.

"It would be a dream for him, for all of us and for him, but right now these two guys the last decade have scored 50, 60 goals every season and I don't know how many assists.

"They have won the Ballon d'Or and all the individual prizes every single season, except maybe last season.

"So the consistency of these two guys – they are legends, they are something unique in world football. And if Raheem can target that level, wow.

"We will be here to help him and of course he can do it, I will not be the guy to say don't think about that. No, absolutely not, I want it.

"But right now, nobody, not in this club but in all the clubs in the world, nobody can compare to what they have done every single week for 10 years. They [Messi and Ronaldo] are absolute legends and nobody can compare, nobody."

England manager Gareth Southgate said after the win over Bulgaria that the biggest change in Sterling's attitude had been his desire to score goals.

"I think with Brendan Rodgers in Liverpool, he played incredibly well, and with the national team he's played incredibly well," Guardiola said.

"So, I think his style, his desire, I think, the most I saw from the beginning is the fact he has an incredible mentality, he's a winning player.

"Before he made good actions but didn't finish too much. And now he's a player who can win games for himself."

Pep Guardiola is delighted with Raheem Sterling's form but has urged the Manchester City attacker to ignore comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The England international has starred for club and country this season with eight goals and three assists in seven matches.

Sterling earned plenty of plaudits following his man of the match display against Kosovo on Tuesday, with former City and England winger Trevor Sinclair claiming he is on the same level as Ronaldo and Messi.

Guardiola has played down the comparisons, however, believing that nobody can match the two players who have battled it out to be the world's best for more than a decade.

"I'm so happy for him, for the way he's playing here and national team, but hopefully he won't read or listen to these kind of things," Guardiola said at Friday's news conference. 

"Nobody can compare with Cristiano or Messi. 

"I don't know if he's the best in England. Since we're together, not just now, he's been incredible with his work ethic. He's a nice guy. I'm delighted for him."

Sterling has been responsible for five of City's 14 goals in their opening four Premier League matches, the reigning champions collecting 10 points from their opening run of fixtures.

Liverpool are two points better off with a perfect return but Guardiola insisted it is too early to call it a two-horse race at the summit, especially with the games now coming thick and fast.

Speaking ahead of City's trip to Norwich City on Saturday, Guardiola told reporters: "I'm not predicting. Every week there are incredible predictions - there's a tendency for that but we've played four league games and that's nothing.

"We start the real competition, we play Saturday, then travel, play Wednesday, land Thursday, Saturday we have Premier League and then we go to Preston to play in the EFL Cup. 

"Of the next five games we've got four away, so many things can happen. We've had two terrible injuries with Leroy [Sane] and Aymeric [Laporte]. 

"It's too early to say what is going to happen. Chelsea, United, Tottenham, Everton doing well, everything can happen, but it's four games. In February or March we can say better. Now it's just four games and it's nothing."

Gareth Southgate has welcomed Raheem Sterling becoming a star player for England and hailed the forward's increasing influence on and off the pitch.

Sterling initially struggled to turn his club form for Manchester City into high-level performances for the Three Lions, regularly facing strong criticism over his performances.

He branded himself "The Hated One" in a post on social media while enduring a difficult time during England's unsuccessful Euro 2016 campaign.

Since then, however, Sterling has grown to play a key role for England with a stunning run of eight goals in his past eight appearances demonstrating his importance for Southgate's side.

Sterling equalised in Tuesday's 5-3 Euro 2020 qualifying win over Kosovo and created a further three goals, including providing assists for both of Jadon Sancho's maiden international goals.

The attacker has also become a social figurehead, drawing praise for speaking out over racism and going viral for his interactions with supporters, with manager Southgate delighted to have a front-row seat to Sterling's continued rise to superstardom.

"For me, it's lovely to see the shift in the public opinion of him," Southgate said of the 24-year-old.

"That's still a brave thing to decide that: 'Right, I'm going to own that space and I'm going to put my own views across'. But those views represent many as well, so I think he's aware of the power of his voice, but he also doesn't waste it.

"I think he was very forthright in his social media posts [about racism]. I think he raised everybody's awareness and made us all think, which was very mature and impressive. And, at the same time, he rose to the challenge with his club, with new signings coming in.

"You know, when you are at a club like that, to keep fighting off the quality of players that he has; and straight away with us, got the goals in Spain - first game after the World Cup for him, really. Croatia away, Spain. I think it was such a huge weight lifted for him, he almost jumped six foot in the stadium, didn't he? 

"So I think from that moment - because he did come home a bit sad after the World Cup, there's no hiding from that. He didn't deserve to feel that way, but that's as he was, so it's lovely to see the recognition he's getting and how much extra I think that's bringing out of him.

"If there are things that he thinks can be better with the mentality of the players or the way that we've set the week out, he'll thoughtfully put ideas across; he doesn't just sit and complain.

"But then you see his interaction with the players. I noticed, over the last 24 hours especially [prior to facing Kosovo], he spent a lot of time with Jadon, I think that was probably quite a comfort.

"He can pass things on that I can speak [about] as the coach, but there'll be more depth to that if your fellow winger who has been at the same club as you, and has been through what you’re going to go through can talk to you. I think that's far more powerful. You can't quantify what that will have meant for Jadon."

Asked how Sterling will have felt to have been made a scapegoat earlier in his international career, Southgate said: "Difficult for me to say. I can only imagine. Everyone wants to be liked, don't they?

"Everybody, players give their all. He's a player that has always given his all… You know how much it means to him, how much he wants to do well.

"So, I think it's for him to reflect on how he might have felt then and, for me, it's just lovely to see a young man establishing himself, at the real top table in the game."

Southgate indicated he also sees an England future for Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham, who qualifies to play for Nigeria in addition to the Three Lions.

"Tammy is a young player that we’ve always liked, we know he'll score goals," he said. "We felt it was a bit early this time to call him up, but we really can see that he can offer us something moving forward.

"We gave him a cap back in November of 2017. For sure, we need to make certain that he feels that the opportunity is going to be there. I'm pretty sure he does, he knows us well enough."

Raheem Sterling acknowledges he cannot be compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo until he has performed at the highest level for a number of seasons, but that is his aim.

The Manchester City forward was in irrepressible form in England's 5-3 win against Kosovo on Tuesday, scoring an early equaliser and then laying on three assists in a stunning first-half display.

Sterling's performance continued an outstanding start to the new season, with eight goals to his name for club and country already.

The 24-year-old scored 35 times in the Premier League across the previous two campaigns, but he concedes he is still some way short of the standard set by all-time greats Messi and Ronaldo.

"The most remarkable thing about these players is not that they've been doing it for two or three seasons," said Sterling. "They've been doing it for pretty much their whole career, season after season.

"This is my third season at a high level, I would say, and I just have to keep continuing. I have full belief in myself.

"I have goals and they've been goals of mine since I was a child, and I'll keep thriving and keep learning and try to get all the way to the top, for sure."

Sterling had scored just twice for his country prior to visiting Spain last October but doubled his international tally with a brace in that away win and now has 10 goals in England colours.

"When I first put on the England shirt, I wasn't looking at my stats too much," he said. "It wasn't until I saw how bad they were I put extra pressure on myself to score.

"But I said to myself that once my first goal goes in, I know that the goals will come after that. That's all I was waiting for.

"That night in Spain when I scored two, from then I knew I'd kick on and keep scoring goals."

Gareth Southgate believes Raheem Sterling has been close to "unstoppable" after his dazzling display in England's entertaining 5-3 win over Kosovo in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Sterling scored and set up three others as England came from a goal down at St Mary's Stadium to preserve their 100 per cent record in Group A on Tuesday.

England conceded inside 34 seconds but Sterling restored parity before the Manchester City star teed up Harry Kane and providing the assists for Jadon Sancho's brace.

Sterling's performance came after he scored and supplied two assists for Kane in England's 4-0 rout of Bulgaria last week, and manager Southgate heaped praise on the in-form 24-year-old.

"Our attacking play from Raheem, Jadon and Harry was outstanding," Southgate said. "Raheem's two performances have been of the highest level. 

"I think he's been almost unstoppable, his awareness of where defenders were, his ability to ride challenges, his vision and desire to get in on goal, and unselfish play as well, so I couldn't speak highly enough of the way he played."

It was a memorable outing for Sancho in Southampton, where the Borussia Dortmund sensation scored his first England goals.

"Jadon – you know we were talking about the three on Saturday – Jadon's performance was at that level as well. He worked really hard for the team without the ball and showed the ability he has to go past people, to be calm in tight areas," Southgate said.

"So, that part of our game was absolutely outstanding. We continued that threat for most of the game."

While England made it four wins from four games to be three points clear atop Group A, the Three Lions were far from convincing defensively against Kosovo.

Errors saw England concede three goals to the visiting minnows and Southgate added: "It was bizarre. The outstanding features and the poor features are apparent to everybody, so we don't need to get the video out and go back through it.

"Poor individual mistakes, a poor start to the game. I like the way we showed the composure to recover from that initial mistake and our use of the ball throughout the first half was excellent, right the way through the team.

"The small period after half-time: ridiculous mistakes, poor decisions, lack of covering back. So, we made the game really uncomfortable for ourselves. There were obviously mistakes that were concerning. Whether it was the intensity of the game, whether it was the pressure, I don't know. We've got to reflect on that but they were such basic errors, really, that you have to learn from. We just made some crazy errors."

Raheem Sterling scored and recorded a trio of assists while Jadon Sancho hit his first England goals as Gareth Southgate's side came from behind to beat Kosovo 5-3 in Southampton. 

Kosovo led after 34 seconds of the Euro 2020 qualifier at St Mary's Stadium on Tuesday, Valon Berisha giving the Three Lions a scare, but they roared back to lead 5-1 at half-time thanks to Sterling's inspirational display.

He levelled the scores with a header and set up Harry Kane to make it 2-1 before Mergim Vojvoda's own goal, Sterling then providing assists for Sancho's two strikes in an action-packed Group A clash.

England lost their focus after the interval with Berisha netting again and Vedat Muriqi converting a penalty - a feat Kane failed to match soon after - to make the final scoreline closer than Sterling's superb showing deserved.

Kosovo were gifted an early opener when Michael Keane's loose pass allowed Fidan Aliti to tee up Berisha for his second international goal since changing allegiance from Norway.

The hosts responded well and drew level in the eighth minute, Keane heading a right-wing Ross Barkley corner back across goal for a leaping Sterling to profit from close range.

Sterling then created England's second, brilliantly turning into space on halfway and feeding Kane for a powerful finish through the legs of Kosovo goalkeeper Arijanet Muric.

England opened up a four-goal advantage before the break. Vojvoda turned a low Sancho cross into his own net before the Borussia Dortmund winger opened his international account with a quickfire double.

Sloppy play allowed Kosovo to net first after the restart. Declan Rice lost the ball on halfway and Berisha curled home his second of the game, then Harry Maguire's clumsiness enabled Muriqi to reduce the deficit further from the spot.

England should have restored a three-goal cushion but captain Kane saw his penalty pushed away by Muric while the goalkeeper - on Manchester City's books - later deflected a Sterling shot on to the post.


What does it mean? England closing on qualification

Reaching the Euro 2020 finals always looked on the cards for England but they have made light work of their competition in Group A, scoring 19 goals already and winning all four of their games, although defensive weaknesses were exposed here. 

Kosovo are still occupying second spot in the group and have every chance of reaching their first international tournament given the impressive way they carried the fight against their lauded opponents.


Unplayable Sterling at top of his game

Kosovo's open tactics played into England's hands but Sterling made the most of the time and space he was routinely given in the opposition half. On current form, few players in the world are as dangerous as the City star, who it is easy to forget is only 24 years old.


Keane at risk of losing his place

Bernard Challandes' side pressed ferociously from the first whistle and it did not take them long to force an error from Everton defender Keane. With John Stones expected to be fit for England's next fixtures Keane will likely drop out of the team, partly due to his latest mistake.


What's next?

England have an away double-header against Czech Republic and Bulgaria next month, while October's international break sees Kosovo travel to Gibraltar and host Montenegro.

Gareth Southgate does not believe England had any issues with attitude or complacency in their 4-0 victory over Bulgaria.

Harry Kane scored a hat-trick – with two goals coming from the penalty spot – and set up Raheem Sterling to tap home as Southgate's side made it three wins from three in Euro 2020 qualifying Group A.

England made a subdued start, however, with Jordan Pickford having to make an early save, and the goalkeeper came to the hosts' aid again when he denied Wanderson after the restart.

Southgate acknowledged his side's display was not a complete performance, but insisted he saw no signs of complacency.

"I don't think it's attitude, certainly not complacency," Southgate told ITV Sport.

"Every team is going to have some moments, you've just got to make sure you see it through. Generally pleased and some of our attacking play was very exciting.

"We can do better but of course a comprehensive win in the end. In a game like this you've got to make sure the concentration is 100 per cent right, I always thought we'd have enough firepower to win it, but we can improve on what we did

"I think it improved as the game went on. We didn't need to over complicate things really.

"A few too many touches, a few times a bit sloppy on the ball and credit to them, their formation caused us a few issues out of possession as well."

While Kane will take the headlines, Sterling played a typically crucial role in England's attack, teeing up the opener following a defensive mix-up from Bulgaria, before helping himself to a simple finish to make it 3-0.

"He'll be disappointed he hasn’t got the hat-trick [instead of Kane] because he thrives on scoring goals," Southgate said of the Manchester City forward.

"He was electric, right from the first whistle, a real danger all game."

England continue their qualification campaign against Kosovo in Southampton on Tuesday.

England continued their 100 per cent start in Euro 2020 qualifying as Harry Kane's hat-trick helped them to a resounding 4-0 win over Bulgaria at Wembley on Saturday.

Gareth Southgate's side were far from their fluid best in the opening stages, but a third straight win in Group A never looked in doubt after Kane's opener in the 24th minute.

The Three Lions captain added a second from the penalty spot three minutes into the second half, before teeing up Raheem Sterling for a third.

Kane added another from the spot in the 73rd minute as England warmed up for Tuesday's visit of the group's surprise package, Kosovo, in style.

After a subdued start, Kane thought he had given the hosts a 19th-minute lead. The Tottenham striker had strayed into an offside position, however, before tucking away Raheem Sterling's pass from close range.

He was not to be denied five minutes later, though, taking full advantage of slapstick goalkeeping from Plamen Iliev to score his 23rd international goal.

After a short goal-kick, Iliev's attempted pass to Vasil Bozhikov was cut out by Sterling, who teed up Kane to stroke home from six yards.

Kane went close again shortly before the interval, heading straight at Iliev from Kieran Trippier's teasing right-wing cross.

Jordan Pickford kept out Wanderson's close-range effort a few moments after the restart, before a surging run from Marcus Rashford led to England's second.

The Manchester United forward was brought down in the area by Nikolay Bodurov, with Kane coolly stroking home the resulting spot-kick.

Kane turned provider for England's third in the 55th minute, crossing for Sterling to bundle home his ninth international goal from point-blank range.

The 26-year-old added gloss to a superb individual display 17 minutes from time, whipping in from the penalty spot after he had been clumsily brought down in the area by Kristian Dimitrov.

 

 

What does it mean? Southgate's side in rude health

They might have fallen one short of the five goals they plundered in each of their opening two group games, but England once again enjoyed themselves against limited opposition. They are top of Group A after three games and you would not back against them qualifying for next year's tournament without dropping points.

Kane proves he is more than able

The talismanic striker made light of suggestions he has started the season short of full fitness, delivering a masterclass in how to lead the line. Not only did he find the back of the net three times, but he also superbly picked out Sterling for England's third.

Iliev's lapse proves costly

Bulgaria will be left to rue Iliev's moment of madness. They were holding England at bay with something approaching relative ease, but their goalkeeper's misplaced pass was ruthlessly punished to set Southgate's side on their way to a comfortable win.

What's next?

England will hope to continue their fine start to qualifying when Kosovo – who have picked up eight points from their four games – visit Wembley on Tuesday, while Bulgaria's attentions turn to a friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin on the same day.

Manchester City secured a battling 3-1 win at Bournemouth to bounce back from last week's frustrating draw against Tottenham and climb to second in the Premier League.

The champions' latest VAR woe saw them slip two points off the pace at home to Spurs, but a display of character and quality on the south coast on Sunday ensured that setback was swiftly forgotten.

It had even looked as though City would enjoy a comfortable outing when they took a two-goal lead through Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling, who now has nine goals in eight league games against Bournemouth.

But after Harry Wilson struck a wonderful riposte just before half-time, Pep Guardiola's men were required to dig in for a time before Aguero netted again - his 400th goal for club and country - and City eased home.

City had needed just 15 minutes to forge the opener, with Kevin De Bruyne - inadvertently reaching 50 Premier League assists - miskicking Oleksandr Zinchenko's cross into the path of Aguero for a cool finish.

Aaron Ramsdale dealt with David Silva's volley as City chased a swift second, before Bournemouth were dealt a further blow as Charlie Daniels - just back from injury - was taken off on a stretcher.

The hosts should have levelled when Nicolas Otamendi chested the ball into the path of Adam Smith six yards from goal, but Ederson blocked and City were clinical at the other end.

Silva swept a gorgeous pass into Sterling's feet and the England man's instant control allowed him to poke beyond Ramsdale.

Six minutes of stoppage time granted Bournemouth the opportunity to hit back before the break, though, and Wilson's sensational 25-yard free-kick kissed the top of the right-hand post on the way in.

A lively start to the second half saw Ederson alert to keep out the speedy Callum Wilson, before De Bruyne was surprisingly wasteful on his favoured right foot inside the area.

A VAR review did not result in a penalty for Silva when he appeared to be felled by Jefferson Lerma, but the City captain soon weaved into the box and created space for Aguero to poke in the decisive third.

 

What does it mean? City up for the fight

While perhaps not as dazzling as the display against Tottenham, which had Guardiola purring despite the result, this was a show of why City are champions. Bournemouth were much improved from an aimless outing in this fixture last term, but the visitors would not shirk the battle, relied on their goalkeeper when needed and finished ruthlessly.

Ederson busy, brave and brilliant

De Bruyne assists and Aguero and Sterling goals are common currency, but so too are match-saving turns from Ederson. The goalkeeper started shakily, going into the book for clattering Callum Wilson, before making vital stops from Smith and the England striker, as well as commanding his box as City overcame the Bournemouth challenge.

Another injury blow for Bournemouth

The Cherries were hit by injuries in the full-back position last season, with Daniels out following an April training-ground incident. He had only made his competitive return from a kneecap operation at Aston Villa last week but immediately looked in real trouble as he stayed down after delivering a cross against City. Howe will hope for better news.

What's next?

A seemingly favourable run of fixtures sees City face Brighton and Hove Albion before the international break, with games against Norwich City and Watford to come. Bournemouth have Forest Green in the EFL Cup on Wednesday and then visit Leicester City.

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