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Racial abuse overshadows England masterclass against Bulgaria

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Gareth Southgate’s England extend their lead in their European Championships qualifying group with a 6-0 demolition of Bulgaria. However, it was not the scoreline that took the headline but the fact that the game was stopped twice due to some England players suffering from racial abuse.

The Three Lions were 1/4 to win and justified their heavy favouritism with an impeccable attacking performance in Sofia.

The first big action of the game was Jordan Henderson getting booked just after three minutes. This means the Liverpool midfielder will be suspended and will, therefore, miss England’s next fixture in November.

With added pressure on this England side due to their loss a couple of days ago to the Czech Republic, it was key for the Three Lions to get a quick start.

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford provided one just after 6 minutes. The youngster showed quick feet to escape a defender and lashed a brilliant strike from a tight angle past the keeper to give Southgate’s side an important lead.

The 21-year-old was 9/2 to score first and 21/20 to score anytime, which was somewhat surprising considering his goal today was his first in the last four games.

England showed their defensive frailties soon after with Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov having a decent chance. His strike was slightly deflected but keeper Jordan Pickford was equal to the effort.

Ten minutes from Bulgaria’s chance, England doubled their lead thanks to midfielder Ross Barkley. A great team move ended with Raheem Sterling squaring it for the 25-year-old to slot in an easy tap-in.

The Chelsea man scored again just twelve minutes later following a brilliant cross by skipper Harry Kane. A weak foot delivery from the striker was headed home easily by Barkley as England continued to dominate proceedings.

Manchester City forward Sterling made it four in the fourth minute of added time. Bulgaria had pushed their men forward and England took full advantage with a quick counter-attack. Right-back Kieran Trippier played it into Kane who squared it for Sterling to tap-in another easy chance.

The former Liverpool man now has seven goals in six matches for England and it comes as no surprise that he was 10/11 to score anytime ahead of the game.

Despite England’s brilliant attacking display, the headlines will be about the game being stopped twice due to some of the Three Lions players allegedly receiving racial abuse.

The game was stopped halfway into the first half and just before the end of the half as UEFA implemented their three-step process to combat racist abuse.

England started off where they left off with chances galore for Southgate’s men.

Kane and Sterling both had two glorious opportunities to put England further in control inside the first 15 minutes of the second half. However, the duo squandered their clear cut chances.

It took until the 68th minute for England to get their fifth of the evening and it was Sterling once again. He was played through by Kane and, this time, managed to convert easily.

England controlled possession and the match and went into cruise control for the majority of the second half and took their foot off the gas.

Harry Kane, however, had different ideas. He was searching for his first goal of the evening but only managed to hit the post in the 82nd minute.

The Spurs forward redeemed himself three minutes, sending an assured strike past the hapless keeper to ensure his 8th goal in just six games.

The captain was 2/5 to score anytime but will be disappointed it took this long to get onto the scoresheet and would have had his backers panicking.

Substitutes Jadon Sancho and Callum Wilson also missed easy chances in the final few minutes as England wrapped up a deserved win, which was marred due to some unforgivable racial abuse.

I am a passionate football fan studying in Swansea University. I have written for a number of football based publications including 90min. You can contact me via my email here, or connect and view my linkdin profile

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