Lithuania 0-1 England: Harry Kane penalty hands England narrow victory
By Gerard Brand
Last Updated: 09/10/17 6:42am
Harry Kane's first-half penalty gave England an uninspiring 1-0 victory in Lithuania to end their World Cup Qualifying campaign unbeaten.
England scored the only goal on 27 minutes through Kane's well-taken penalty after Dele Alli had been fouled, the Tottenham striker's 15th goal in 10 games for club and country.
The result means England finish their qualifying campaign unbeaten for the fourth major tournament in a row, having dropped just four points in total.
Harry Maguire and Harry Winks made their England debuts in Gareth Southgate's starting XI, with seven changes from the win over Slovenia. Jack Butland, Michael Keane, Kieran Trippier and Dele Alli also came in, while Aaron Cresswell made his first England start. Harry Kane started up front alongside Marcus Rashford.
England, fielding a youthful XI with an average age of 23.7, controlled the first half, but it was Lithuania who came closest early on as Darvydas Sernas' near-post header hit the side-netting following Maguire's slip in the box.
Michael Keane flashed a half-volley just wide midway through the first period before Alli was brought down in the box by Ovidijus Verbickas following a neat England move. Kane, the hero on Thursday night in the late win over Slovenia, struck his penalty in off the post.
Marcus Rashford forced a decent save out of Ernestas Setkus just before the break, while Harry Winks did the same with a left-footed drive early in the second period.
Lithuania: Setkus (7), Andriuskevicius (6), Girdvainis (6), Zulpa (6), Linas Klimavicius (6), Borovskij (6), Slivka (6), Verbickas (6), Novikovas (6), Sernas (7), Cernych (6)
Subs: Matulevicius (6), Chvedukas (NA)
England: Butland (6); Keane (6), Maguire (6), Stones (6); Trippier (6), Winks (7), Henderson (6), Cresswell (6); Alli (6), Kane (6), Rashford (6)
Subs: Sturridge (6), Lingard (NA)
Man of the match: Harry Winks
Lithuania nearly levelled as Michael Keane turned towards his own goal from a dangerous Fiodor Cernych cross, but Jack Butland did superbly to tip the ball wide.
Aaron Cresswell nearly doubled England's lead, seeing his header from Jordan Henderson's cross saved well by Setkus, while Deivydas Matulevicius had a fine chance to equalise late on, but he shot straight at Butland on the half volley after drifting behind the defence.
Sub Daniel Sturridge then saw a close-range shot blocked in stoppage time as England searched for a second, but it ended in a narrow and tame victory for Gareth Southgate's side.
Man of the match - Harry Winks
Make no mistake, this was not a shining performance full of superlatives by debutant Winks, but his composure and neat passing in midfield made him the best of what was frankly an under-par bunch.
Winks, who has only started four Premier League games in his career, was uncomplicated, shifting the ball quickly and making the correct decision time and time again.
The 21-year-old's speed of thought on the ball, taking his first touch forward rather than to the side, will impress Southgate. Can he edge his way into the reckoning once England's injured players return?
England begin preparations for next summer's tournament in Russia with friendlies at Wembley against Germany (November 10) and Brazil (November 14).