Gareth Southgate: ‘We wouldn’t swap Harry Kane for anyone’

England secures spot in World Cup round of 16 with win over Panama

Four years ago, England failed to win a match at the World Cup and was eliminated in the group stage.

Gareth Southgate has called Harry Kane "irreplaceable" and praised the striker's mental strength, selfless work ethic and ruthless finishing after the captain scored England's first World Cup hat-trick for 32 years to help propel the team into the knockout phase.

Writing about Southgate ahead of today's tie against Panama in The Times, Jonathan Northcroft highlighted England's proficiency from dead-ball situations against Tunisia; "England had seven corners; five resulted in an effort at goal, an extraordinarily high percentage, and Harry Kane scored twice". The goal was an example of Kane's precision and clinical acumen.

History was being made through-out the 90 minutes as Kane joined an elite group of English goalscorers and Panama grabbed their first ever goal at a World Cup.

Kane, substituted to an ovation from the almost 2,500 England fans, was the third England player to score a hat-trick at a World Cup following Geoff Hurst in the 1966 final and Gary Lineker against Poland in the 1986 tournament. "They are architecturally lovely", Southgate said.

Asked how Kane compared to the likes of Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, Southgate said the Tottenham man was on par in terms of pure striking ability.

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Jedinak has in fact scored Australia's last five goals in competitive football, four of which have come from the penalty spot. England were dominant throughout, breaking through Panama's defence easily. "Not many players score a hat-trick in the World Cup, so I'm extremely proud of that".

"He was small, he was light and he didn't show enough to make me believe he could be anything more than a squad player".

As is desperately obvious in worldwide football, one world class player can make all the difference, and England fans are dreaming of Kane leading them to glory.

In other action, Japan and Senegal will go head-to-head in Group H action after they both picked up victories in their opening games.

They will now face Belgium on Thursday, with the victor of that game emerging as group winners. "We will play last against Belgium and know whether we want to finish top of the group".

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