Harry Kane and England wrapped up a prolific 2019 with a 4-0 Euro 2020 qualification win against Kosovo on Sunday.

Next year, Gareth Southgate's team will hope to emulate their country's greatest ever side by winning a major tournament at Wembley.

England's current vintage are at least the equal of Alf Ramsey's World Cup winners in one way already – their 38 goals scored in 2019 is the same number that the Three Lions managed in a seminal 1966.

Only once, in 1909, have England managed more goals in a calendar year, when they scored 39 in just seven games.

Kane's individual haul of 12 equalled the record for an England player in a calendar year, standing alongside Everton great Dixie Dean's efforts in 1927 and George Hilsdon in 1908.

The Tottenham star has now netted in each of his past six international appearances and is the only England player to do so in the post-war era – matching his own efforts between October 2017 and July 2018.

Gareth Southgate claimed England have emerged stronger after working through the bust-up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez and ending their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with emphatic victories.

After being left out of the squad for England's 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro following his behind-the-scenes clash with Gomez, Sterling was restored to Southgate's side for their campaign-closing 4-0 victory over Kosovo and was involved in goals scored by Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford.

Southgate praised the way his players pulled together and indicated he is happy with the progress they are making with the European Championship seven months away.

"You have to work through any difficulties you might have," Southgate told ITV. "The whole group have done that really well and I think we've come out of this stronger than we started it, quite frankly.

"We're further ahead in being more settled in the group and the way we want to play and players understanding our principles of play.

"There is really good competition and we wanted to learn a few things tonight, that we certainly did."

Harry Winks opened the scoring at Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri with his first international goal - a feat that was matched by second-half substitute Mason Mount, who scored in stoppage time.

Winks admitted England's defensive lapses allowed Kosovo to compete, while underlining his commitment to the team regardless of whether Southgate plays him in a deep-lying role or as an attacking midfielder.

"I like to be able to play both positions," Winks said on ITV. "I consider myself someone who can be in that pivot [position] and be in that eight if needed as well.

"There's always moments we need to improve on. It was the same in the Montenegro game, we gave away a few sloppy chances and we need to work on that because, come the Euros, we'll come up against stronger opposition than them and they might punish us."

Kane, whose strike took his tally to 12 goals in qualifying, echoed his Tottenham team-mate's comments, while reflecting upon England's strong finish to the game.

"We went through a few spells where they had a bit of pressure," he told ITV. "But we soaked it up and towards the end, when the spaces started to open up, it was clinical and 4-0 is a great result.

"We know we can improve. Tonight was difficult: the pitch was poor and it was hard to play, and there's always going to be little mistakes.

"When we play better teams we've got to make sure we're on it."

 

Harry Winks and Mason Mount scored their first senior international goals as England rounded off Euro 2020 qualifying with a 4-0 victory in Kosovo, where Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford were also among the goals.

Tottenham's Winks provided the finish to a rare moment of first-half quality, although his combination with Declan Rice and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in midfield did not always deliver the cohesion England need in their engine room.

Kane added a second 11 minutes from time and substitute Rashford swept home four minutes later.

Mount's late strike added gloss to the scoreline but Bernard Challandes' impressive Kosovo side can still reach the European Championship via a play-off place secured by virtue of their Nations League performance.

After matching England for long spells at Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri they will be confident of making it count.

Joachim Low singled out Toni Kroos and Matthias Ginter for praise following Germany's Euro 2020 qualification, highlighting the importance of the midfielder and defender.

Germany crushed Belarus 4-0 on Saturday to secure their place at next year's tournament, with Leon Goretzka, Ginter and two-goal Kroos on the scoresheet.

It has been a difficult period for Die Mannschaft following their early World Cup elimination last year, with Low's selection policy in particular resulting in criticism of the coach, with Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng excluded from the squad.

A home defeat to Netherlands in September had Germany's automatic qualification hopes looking somewhat precarious given the form of the Oranje and Northern Ireland.

But they have since cruised over the line with minimal fuss and Low applauded Kroos not just for his effective display on Saturday, but for his general attitude.

"Toni Kroos played a great game, not just because he scored twice," Low told the German Football Association's (DFB) official website.

"You can pass him the ball at any time and he'll find a way to deal with it, even if he's under pressure. He has a great vision and a sense of where he is on the pitch.

"He's a role model for the rest of the team with the way he approaches his job. He always puts in that extra bit of work before and after training – he's a consummate professional."

Ginter has become a fixture at the heart of the Germany defence in Euro 2020 qualifying, making six starts as Low found his replacement for the banished Hummels.

It marks an impressive rise for the centre-back, who just a couple of years ago seemed to be failing to live up to his early potential when Borussia Dortmund allowed him to leave for Borussia Monchengladbach.

"As a coach, you always know what to expect from him [Ginter]," Low added. "You can trust him and he is able to do what we want him to do, which is to help build the play up from defence.

"He's gotten much better. He has this sense of calmness about him, which is what makes him so solid, serious and reliable. I'm especially happy that he was able to score such a beautiful goal [on Saturday]."

Fernando Santos expects Portugal to compete strongly for back-to-back European titles but does not think his defending champions are favourites heading into Euro 2020.

Goals from Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo – his 99th in international colours – secured a battling 2-0 win in Luxembourg on Sunday and made sure of Portugal's place in next year's tournament.

Santos' side only won one game inside 90 minutes as they ground their way to glory in France in 2016.

The emergence of Bernardo Silva, Joao Felix, Ruben Neves and Fernandes, alongside the presence of the evergreen Ronaldo, arguably gives the veteran coach a far stronger squad than the one that won a maiden major international honour for the country.

However, much as Santos never talked down Portugal's Euro 2016 prospects, he was not about to play cheerleader.

"We are candidates at the Euros, we never assume as we are favourites," he told a post-match news conference.

"The Portuguese team has quality. When Portugal can gather creativity, quality and artistic notes, and at the same time realise that the game, at certain times, needs other things, [we are] practically unbeatable.

"It is not easy to beat Portugal, Portugal have all the conditions to be able to make a good European Championship. 

"The status is the same as always. When we went to Euro 2016, they said it was crazy when I said Portugal was a candidate."

A wretched playing surface at Stade Josy Barthel frustrated Portugal for long periods as they were unable to locate the free-flowing form that brushed aside Lithuania 6-0 on Thursday.

Ronaldo's expected canter towards a century of international goals never materialised, with a poached effort from on the goal line in the 86th minute all the Juventus star had to show for his efforts.

"It was not an exhibition with artistic notes, as it was against Lithuania," Santos said.

"Before the game we could not appreciate the situation of the pitch, but we were aware of how it was and the truth is that posed some problems, especially in the circulation of the ball.

"The players had difficulty getting their foot on the ball. For the first 20 minutes, we couldn't get the game right and Luxembourg are a team that presses well and are physically strong.

"From the 25th minute, things got more balanced, we started playing differently and scored the [Fernandes] goal.

"It was a tougher game than we expected but it showed the character and personality of these players."

Antoine Griezmann accepts his integration to life at Barcelona has not been easy but remains convinced he will be successful at Camp Nou.

After over a year of speculation and transfer rumours, Barca finally secured the signing of Griezmann from Atletico Madrid, triggering his €120million release clause.

While his haul of four LaLiga goals and three assists in 11 matches is hardly alarming, Griezmann's performances have generally failed to inspire much excitement from fans, leaving them somewhat underwhelmed.

It was thought the forward's arrival would alleviate some of the pressure on talisman Lionel Messi, but the Argentina superstar continues to shoulder much of the creative burden.

After Barca coach Ernesto Valverde recently suggested the Frenchman still needs to adapt to the team's style of play, Griezmann is confident of improving with time and has no doubts over his decision to join Barca.

"Barcelona is not the easiest place [to play]," he said in an interview with Telefoot. "It's a new team, a different club, new tactics and a new position and role for me. But it is what it is and it's time to work.

"I'm proud of the decision and where I am, and it will be the work that sorts everything. Trust me and everything will good.

"My goal now is to be an important player in the club, have more minutes, score more goals, make decisive passes, qualify in the Champions League and be up there in the league, be ready for the national team [France] in March and also for Euro 2020.

"I'm a player who thinks about the team. I can score many goals, but that is not my main goal. My goal is to help the team in any way I can."

Alexis Sanchez's recovery from ankle surgery is on track and the Inter forward could return ahead of schedule. 

Sanchez suffered a dislocated ankle and tendon damage while playing for Chile against Colombia in October.

The need to have an operation meant three months on the sidelines, curtailing the early stages of his loan stay at San Siro from Manchester United.

Inter's head of medical services Piero Volpi told La Cuarta he is optimistic about Sanchez's speed of recovery, with the 30-year-old aiming to resume work with a ball in the near future.

"It is a delicate injury, but the recovery is going very well, the deadlines are being met," he said.

"Mid-January [is the return date] but we'll see. Alexis could even come back a little earlier if all goes well.

"He has not yet done work with the ball, but we hope that in the next few days we will have news about it. Everything is going well."

Sanchez scored on his only Serie A start for Inter, a 3-1 win at Sampdoria where he was later sent off, and has made four appearances overall for Antonio Conte's side.

Inter's first game of 2020 is away to Napoli in the league on January 5, while they host Atalanta a week later.

Raheem Sterling has been restored to England's starting XI against Kosovo after being dropped following a bust-up with Joe Gomez, while Nick Pope will make his first start between the posts.

Sterling was left out of the squad for the 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro on Thursday as punishment for an incident that occurred in a private area of England's training base.

The two players had clashed in last Sunday's Premier League meeting between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield, and Sterling is reported to have reacted poorly when greeted by Gomez the following day as the England squad met up.

Gomez came on as second-half substitute in the win over Montenegro but was jeered by some at Wembley Stadium as he entered the pitch, leading to Gareth Southgate and Sterling condemning the fans for the frosty reception.

The Liverpool defender has since returned to his club due to injury.

Sterling's restoration is one of five alterations to the team from Thursday, with the City star coming in for Marcus Rashford, while Jadon Sancho moves to the bench in favour of Callum Hudson-Odoi.

In midfield, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Harry Winks retain their places, with Declan Rice coming in, while Tyrone Mings and Pope also enter the starting XI.

England have already secured a place at Euro 2020 before the contest in Pristina, the final outing of the qualifying campaign for both nations.

Cristiano Ronaldo took his tally of international goals to 99 with a late tap-in as Portugal secured a place at Euro 2020 with a laboured 2-0 win over Luxembourg.

Ronaldo fell just short of becoming the second player in history to reach a century for his country after Iran's Ali Daei on an afternoon when he struggled on a slow pitch at Stade Jose Barthel, where the reigning European champions were made to work hard for the victory.

The creative endeavour of Bernardo Silva proved more of a threat than Ronaldo's presence and it was the Manchester City playmaker who teed up Bruno Fernandes to break the deadlock late in the first half of Sunday's Group B clash.

Thereafter Portugal offered little and those gathered at Stade Josy Barthel to see Ronaldo make history were instead treated to an impressive display from a side ranked 96th in the world by FIFA, but the Juventus talisman did manage to score from practically on the line with four minutes remaining.

Ronaldo gave Anthony Moris an easy save with a tame shot from 12 yards early on but it was not all one-way traffic, with Danilo Pereira and Fernandes leaving gaps in midfield that allowed Luxembourg to attack.

Maurice Deville and Gerson Rodrigues both headed narrowly over the crossbar and the hosts deserved credit for restricting Portugal's first-half chances, although they were powerless to stop Fernandes' opener.

The Sporting CP star deftly controlled Silva's weighted pass six minutes from half-time before putting his laces through the ball, hammering a shot into the bottom corner of Moris' net.

Jose Fonte headed just wide early in the second half but it was the hosts who played the better football without creating a clear scoring opportunity.

Fernandes was brought down by Olivier Thill with 13 minutes left, presenting Ronaldo with a free-kick on the edge of the box, but Portugal's all-time leading goalscorer blazed wide with an effort that looked set to sum up his afternoon.

That was until Moris parried Diogo Jota's effort from a Bernardo cross and Ronaldo helped the ball over the line to ensure his name was on the scoresheet.

What does it mean? Santos' men struggle for consistency

Portugal coach Fernando Santos can be pleased with his side's record of five wins, two draws and one defeat in qualifying, but after seeing them hammer Lithuania 6-0 on Thursday this performance offered a reminder of their occasional lack of fluency.

Bernardo copes with the quagmire

While Ronaldo under-hit passes and snatched at chances, Bernardo kept his composure to steer Portugal to victory, never more so than when he floated an exquisite pass to allow Fernandes to score.

Danilo off the pace

Luxembourg were not expected to make a close game of this but they found space in an around Portugal's box that a player of Danilo's quality should have been dominating.

What's next?

European Championship holders Portugal will be among the favourites at Euro 2020 with a coach who knows how to win it at the helm in Santos, while Luxembourg's impressive performance in this game will have done Luc Holtz's chances of remaining in charge no harm.

Virgil van Dijk has been released from the Netherlands squad to face Estonia for personal reasons.

The Liverpool centre-back completed 90 minutes on Saturday as Ronald Koeman's side battled to a 0-0 draw in Northern Ireland, securing their place at Euro 2020 with a game to spare in qualification.

Top spot in Group C is still up for grabs heading into Tuesday's game versus Estonia at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, with Germany two points ahead going into their own match against Northern Ireland, although captain Van Dijk will not take part.

"National team coach Ronald Koeman cannot rely on VirgiI van Dijk on Tuesday against Estonia," read a short statement from the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB). 

"The captain of the Dutch national team has to [miss] the game due to personal circumstances and has since left the Oranje training camp."

Van Dijk's next engagement with Premier League leaders Liverpool is a trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

Marco Giampaolo needed more time to have a genuine chance of implementing his plans for AC Milan, according to assistant coach Daniele Bonera.

Milan sacked Giampaolo following a 2-1 win over Genoa in October, his seventh match in charge.

The former Sampdoria boss presided over three victories and four defeats before the Rossoneri rushed to appoint Stefano Pioli – a move that, so far, has failed to lead to an upturn in the team's fortunes.

Pioli has led the team to four points from five games since his arrival, with their solitary triumph coming at home to lowly SPAL.

"In a few months, two coaches arrived with different working methods, two ways of thinking on a defensive level," Bonera, an assistant under both coaches, told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"With Giampaolo, we thought more about the ball. With Pioli, we are more practical and we work on the positioning of players.

"Giampaolo did not have the time he needed, but at a club like Milan there is never much time."

Asked about the players, Bonera said: "I see guys who are very committed. Many are really young, in their twenties. It takes time.

"We need patience, which is a rare commodity in football. We are trying to do better every day. I've never seen any of the players holding back because of fatigue."

Milan's problems could grow further if Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain launch a January bid to sign goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, as has been rumoured in recent days.

Bonera, who made over 150 Serie A appearances for Milan during his nine-year spell with the club as a player, recommends the 20-year-old Donnarumma remains with his boyhood club.

"As a fan and someone in love with Milan, I would recommend he stay with us," Bonera said.

"But he has staff and family who advise him."

Barcelona academy product Dani Olmo did not rule out a return to Camp Nou after his impressive form for Dinamo Zagreb led to speculation that the Spanish champions could seek to re-sign him.

The 21-year-old attacking midfielder has scored two goals in six league appearances for Dinamo this season, but it was his performances in Spain's European Under-21 Championship triumph that helped propel him into contention for a transfer to LaLiga.

Olmo netted three times to help Spain's young players to glory and his form in big games has continue in the Champions League, with four goals in nine appearances for a Dinamo side still in contention to reach the knockout stages.

Asked whether his displays might carry him back to Spain, Olmo told Sport: "I hope I can come back, but we've just started the season really well.

"We're doing well in the Champions League. There are two games left and we depend on ourselves to get through. There's a lot of work to be done. 

"The Champions League is a shop window for all young players, especially if you're in a smaller league like Croatia."

Olmo did not make a senior appearance for Barcelona before joining Dinamo as a 17-year-old, but he paid tribute to the training academy at La Masia for giving him strong foundations.

On the speculation over a possible transfer back to Catalonia, Olmo said: "We will see what happens.

"I don't close the door on any club, but I'm a Dinamo player, what happens with Dinamo, we will see.

"Barcelona's style: touch, movement - that's added to what I have learned in Croatia.

"They've made me the player I am now."

Ernesto Valverde has the backing of Barcelona's backroom staff according to sporting director Eric Abidal, who moved to distance the Blaugrana from "clubs that change coaches after bad results".

Barcelona are top of LaLiga, level on points with second-placed Real Madrid, but a 3-1 defeat at Levante and a goalless draw at home to Slavia Prague brought doubts over Valverde's leadership back to the fore among sections of the club's fanbase.

Ronaldo Koeman has been touted as a potential replacement for Valverde, should he leave the position he took up in May 2017.

Abidal admitted that Valverde's position is never far from the headlines, despite his back-to-back LaLiga triumphs, pointing to Barcelona's Champions League eliminations at the hands of Roma in 2017-18 and Liverpool in 2018-19 as sore points for supporters.

"There's always a debate about Valverde," Abidal told SPORT.

"The same thing that happened in Rome happened in Liverpool. Because of one result you can end up thinking that it's been a bad season. And for the way that it happened. 

"In these situations, you can think that the coach is to blame, but you have to analyse everything. What does the coach bring to the team and vice-versa?

"We support the coach and we give him all the information, although the day-to-day is his. There are clubs that change coaches after bad results, but you always have to look at the wider situation.

"If the coach sees that it can be improved, you have to back him."

Antoine Griezmann's performances have also been heavily scrutinised by the Camp Nou faithful since his €120million transfer from Atletico Madrid, and Abidal conceded the France international has not been at his best.

Griezmann has scored four goals in 11 league appearances and only one in his last six domestic outings, leaving him vulnerable to criticism from an expectant crowd.

Abidal backed the 28-year-old to improve, saying: "He knows it's complicated to adapt. Here the movements are different, but he's a player that can add a lot and the coach knows that. 

"Defensively he brings a lot and he can play in many positions. He came because he wants to win the Champions League.

"He knows he's not at his best and that's only fixed by working hard. Griezmann is an intelligent player and the important thing is to know what you can add to the team in the position you are playing."

Luca Waldschmidt suffered injuries to his face, knee and ankle in a seven-minute cameo against Belarus and will miss Germany's final Euro 2020 qualifier.

The Freiburg forward was taken to hospital after colliding with Belarus goalkeeper Aleksandr Gutor at Borussia Park on Thursday.

Tests confirmed Waldschmidt sustained a concussion among multiple impact injuries, according to a German Football Association (DFB) statement.

"Luca Waldschmidt suffered a midfacial fracture and concussion, as well as an injury to his right knee and ankle during Germany's 4-0 victory over Belarus on Saturday evening," the statement read.

"The DFB and Freiburg's medical departments will carry out further examinations in due course.

"The 23-year-old, who replaced Serge Gnabry in the 84th minute of the game, will travel back to Freiburg from the national team headquarters in Dusseldorf [on Sunday]."

Waldschmidt was taken off in the first minute of added time and will not be involved when Germany entertain Northern Ireland on Tuesday.

The match is effectively a dead rubber for Joachim Low's men, who sealed qualification for Euro 2020 and went top of Group C thanks to their victory over Belarus.

Barcelona will always be interested in Neymar but it is financially difficult to re-sign him, the club's sporting director Eric Abidal has admitted.

Neymar attempted to secure a move back to Camp Nou in the close season, two years after leaving for Paris Saint-Germain in a deal that made him the most expensive player in history.

LaLiga champions Barca held talks with PSG but were unable to meet the Ligue 1 side's demands.

Lionel Messi suggested some at the Catalan club did not want Neymar to return, though it appears he will remain a target.

"A top player, who has a Barca philosophy and who is performing at a high level, will always be an option," Abidal told Mundo Deportivo.

"We can make decisions on the sporting level but the whole financial issue, there are things that you can do and others you cannot. The future will tell us.

"I will not say it would be option number one, because the season is very long, but clearly it can be an option."

Barca reignited their interest in Neymar amid a desire to find a long-term successor to ageing striker Luis Suarez.

The search is said to have led them to highly rated Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

Asked about the 22-year-old, Abidal said: "He is a complete player. I think he is performing at a great level. He is a player we know.

"There are other players who also have a lot of quality... but I don't pay much attention to the player who plays every weekend, I look at others."

Barca did boost their attacking options with the addition of Antoine Griezmann in July and Abidal said Suarez had been briefed on the club's intentions to pursue another competitor for his starting spot.

"I am transparent with the players," the Frenchman said. "Luis can tell you, because last year I already told him that it was going to be like that, that we were going to look for an offensive player.

"He accepted it because he wants the best for the team. Today, I can tell you that there is no priority. The planning will always be done, no matter the position on the field, the only change will be the decision."

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