Montenegro 1 England 5: Three Lions’ latest triumph marred by racist taunting in Podgorica

England’s impressive start to Euro 2020 qualification continued with a first win in Montenegro, but the victory was overshadowed by racist chanting.
England trailed against Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday night but Michael Keane, above, equalised and then they cruised to a 5-1 win (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire).England trailed against Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday night but Michael Keane, above, equalised and then they cruised to a 5-1 win (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire).
England trailed against Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday night but Michael Keane, above, equalised and then they cruised to a 5-1 win (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire).

Just 72 hours after kicking off their European Championship journey by hitting five without reply against Czech Republic, the Three Lions continued their Group A campaign in Podgorica at what had previously been an unhappy hunting ground.

Marko Vesovic’s early strike had the hosts dreaming, but Ross Barkley’s brace along with goals from Michael Keane, Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling sealed the three points at the Gradski Stadion.

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The latter made a gesture with his ears towards the Montenegro fans after scoring and there were monkey chants aimed at Danny Rose towards the end.

It was a despicable end to a night that saw the Three Lions win back-to-back games by five goals or more for the first time since 1984 as Southgate’s decision to turn to young talent paid off.

Declan Rice looked comfortable enough on his first start and Callum Hudson-Odoi recovered from a nervy opening in impressive fashion on the night he became the second-youngest player to start a competitive match for his country.

The 18-year-old and then Keane were culpable of failing to clear the ball as Vesovic opened the scoring, but both recovered impressively.

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The latter rose to head home his first England goal from a free-kick sent in by Barkley, who then turned home after a shot from Hudson-Odoi.

Barkley slammed home a second and Kane turned in a cross on the break from Sterling, who gestured with his ears towards the home fans after latching onto an exquisite Jordan Henderson through ball to score.

Hudson-Odoi picked up an object thrown onto the field during the aftermath of that goal, and things boiled over late on and Rose was subjected to monkey chants.

Reports of racism first emerged in the opening minutes of a match that saw initially cumbersome England punished in the 17th minute.

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Hudson-Odoi’s measly challenge allowed Zarko Tomasevic to get his head on a hopeful diagonal pass and Keane failed to mop up the loose ball. Vesovic lapped up possession and bundled past the bumbling England centre-back to curl in.

The home crowd erupted in disbelief as much as joy, but the Three Lions reacted with character that belied their inexperience and their set-piece prowess brought a 30th-minute leveller.

Barkley sent an excellent right-footed free-kick to the far post where Keane powered home a header in front of the hardy 690 travelling fans.

Provider soon turned goalscorer as England stepped it up eight minutes after levelling.

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Kane played the ball to the left flank and Hudson-Odoi cut onto his right foot, darted past two defenders and sent in a bending shot to which Barkley got the final touch as Danijel Petkovic attempted to save.

Stefan Mugosa and Fatos Beciraj had attempts either side of England’s second goal with Ljubisa Tumbakovic’s side continuing to push for a goal when the second half got under way.

Hudson-Odoi had now grown into proceedings and followed an exquisite cross-field ball with a pinpoint pass to the far post to which Sterling could not quite get a telling touch.

The 18-year-old was looking lively after being switched to the left and cut inside with pace and skill before forcing Petkovic to a save low to his left. Beciraj turned just wide at the near post after a defensive mishap, but that error was soon forgotten as England put the game to bed in the 59th minute.

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Persistence was key as Barkley won back the ball and passed to Kane, who fed Sterling and eventually dug out a cutback for the Chelsea midfielder to slam home.

Henderson came on for his 50th cap in place of Dele Alli and soon England were celebrating a fourth goal.

Sterling was sent scampering behind the Montenegro backline and he squared for Kane to direct into an empty net.

That 71st-minute effort was followed by a fifth goal 10 minutes from time as Henderson threaded through to Sterling to direct home.

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His celebrations seemed pointed and Rose was subjected to monkey chants after a heavy late challenge.

Montenegro: Petkovic, Stojkovic, Savic, Simic (Jovetic 74), Tomasevic, Marusic, Ivanic, Vukcevic, Vesovic (Boljevic 70), Beciraj (Jankovic 61), Mugosa. Unused substitutes: Mijatovic, Ljuljanovic, Kopitovic, Bakic, Djordjevic, Kajevic, Kosovic, Scekic, Radunovic.

England: Pickford, Walker, Maguire, Keane, Rose, Barkley (Ward-Prowse 82), Rice, Alli (Henderson 64), Sterling, Kane (Wilson 82), Hudson-Odoi. Unused substitutes: Heaton, Butland, Trippier, Tarkowski, Chilwell, Sancho.

Referee: Aleksei Kulbakov (Belarus).