Harry Kane struck for a hat trick and England became just the fourth team in World Cup history to score five ties in the first half en route to a 6-1 victory over Panama in a Group G match at Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on Sunday.
The victory clinched a spot in the knockout round for England, which moved into a tie with Belgium atop the group ahead of their final group stage match Thursday at Kaliningrad Stadium.
Panama, which celebrated its first-ever World Cup goal on a sliding attempt by Felipe Baloy in the 78th minute, will seek its first victory Thursday against Tunisia Thursday at Mordovia Arena in Saransk.
Hernan Dario Gomez went with an unchanged starting XI from the side that lost to Belgium, 3-0, on Monday, which meant a second World Cup start for defenders Roman Torres from Seattle Sounders FC, the New York Red Bulls defensive duo of Fidel Escobar and Michael Murillo and San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Anibal Godoy.
Godoy actually had the first scoring chance of the game on a ball played in by Edgar Barcenas, but his first-time shot from the edge of the 18-yard box sailed over the crossbar in the fifth minute.
Three minutes later, John Stones scored the first of his two goals, breaking free of Michael Murillo to latch onto a Kieran Trippier corner and beat Jamie Penedo with an open header.
Escobar barged over Jesse Lingard in the box and Kane clinically finished from the penalty spot to double England’s lead in the 22nd minute.
Lingard made it 3-0 with a stunning strike from 22 yards out in the 36th minute and Stones followed with a headed rebound four minutes later to make it 4-0.
After Godoy wrestled down Kane in the box while attempting to defend a piece, England’s captain powered home his second penalty kick to cap a dominant first-half of historical proportions.
On a shot by Ruben Loftus-Cheek that deflected off Kane’s heel in the 62nd minute, Kane became just the third player in England history to score a World Cup hat trick, following Geoff Hurst (1966) and Gary Lineker (1986). He also took over the Golden Boot lead with his fifth tournament goal.
Both teams made changes following the goal, with Godoy making way for Ricardo Avila, who set up Baloy’s historic goal that was celebrated accordingly by the Panamanian fans, with a driven free kick.
Defenders Harold Cummings from San Jose and Adolfo Machado from the Houston Dynamo did not play for a second straight game.