European Championship Qualifying - Group A
BulgariaBulgaria0EnglandEngland6

Bulgaria 0-6 England: Racism overshadows dominant Euro 2020 qualifying win

By Phil McNultyChief football writer in Sofia
England
There were two halts in play in the first half due to incidents of racist abuse

England's Euro 2020 qualifying victory over Bulgaria in Sofia was overshadowed by shameful scenes of racism that saw the game stopped twice and officials threaten to abandon the match.

Gareth Southgate's side strolled to a 6-0 victory in an atmosphere that was toxic in the first half and eerie in the second, with a large section of the Vasil Levski Stadium already closed after racist incidents here in June.

England debutant Tyrone Mings was an early victim, turning towards the home fans when chants were aimed in his direction and referee Ivan Bebek stopped the game in the 28th minute after Raheem Sterling was a target for further abuse.

After lengthy discussions, and in accordance with Uefa's protocol for dealing with racism, the crowd were warned of the consequences if there were further problems - and there was a further stoppage just before half-time.

On the pitch, England moved closer to Euro 2020 qualification as they romped to victory with the recalled Marcus Rashford opening the scoring early on with a superb rising drive.

Ross Barkley added a tap-in and a head from Kieran Trippier's cross before Sterling got on the scoresheet with another simple finish just before half-time.

And Sterling provided an even more emphatic answer to those who directed the shameful chants at England's players when he strode through for the fifth goal after 68 minutes.

England's worst fears realised

The issue of racism provided a disturbing backdrop to this game and it was only a matter of minutes before England's worst fears were realised.

Mings was clearly perturbed by chanting, a sorry state of affairs for the 26-year-old who should have been savouring the greatest moment of his career by winning his first England cap.

When England manager Gareth Southgate, captain Harry Kane and several players gathered near the touchline before half-time after more audible abuse, it looked as if the game may be abandoned but it swiftly resumed.

A large group of black-clad supporters, some of whom were making right-wing salutes, were moved from an area behind the dugout and Bulgaria captain Ivelin Popov went into that part of the stadium while the teams walked off at half-time to plead with supporters.

The atmosphere, not to mention the one-sided scoreline, was almost surreal in the second half with the Bulgarian players seemingly demoralised and dispirited themselves by the shocking events of the night.

England keep cool in shameful circumstances

Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane
Harry Kane (right) set up both of Raheem Sterling's goals in each half before netting himself in the 85th minute

England needed to produce a significant response after the disappointment of their first loss in 44 qualifying matches in the Czech Republic on Friday - and they delivered in every way in these most trying of circumstances.

Mings kept his head under the most disgraceful provocation, while Sterling did what he does well - answered with his actions with another stellar performance.

This was a shockingly poor Bulgaria side but the environment here in the Levski Stadium meant this was an examination of England's character, their ability to stay cool while recording the impressive result they required to boost their chances of being seeded for Euro 2020.

In this context, it was a remarkably impressive effort from Southgate's players.

Kosovo's win against Montenegro means England must wait to confirm qualification, although that will surely come in the next round of qualifiers at home to Montenegro and in Kosovo in November.

What next for Bulgaria?

One can only imagine the severest sanctions await the Bulgarian FA (BFU) after another serious incident of racism scarred a Euro 2020 game here.

A section of around 5,000 seats were already closed after incidents against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June and 3,000 will be cordoned off for the qualifier against the Czech Republic in November.

There was a grim inevitability about how events unfolded in Sofia given the build-up, with England manager Southgate having reminded his players of Uefa's protocol on racism after they were abused in Montenegro in March.

The Bulgarian authorities responded angrily, with BFU president Borislav Mihaylov sending a letter of complaint to Uefa and coach Krasimir Balakov insisting England's problems with racism were worse than theirs.

It is now up to Uefa to act once it receives the report of the referee and observers.

Player of the match - Tyrone Mings

Tyrone Mings
Tyrone Mings was impressive on his debut despite ongoing issues off the pitch

'Our players walked off smiling'

England manager Gareth Southgate to BBC Radio 5 Live: "We had to prepare for this eventuality. The most important thing was the players and staff knew what we were going to do and were in agreement. Nobody should have to experience what our players did. We followed the protocol. We gave two messages - one that our football did the talking and two, we stopped the game twice.

"That might not be enough for some people but we are in that impossible situation that we can't give everyone what they want. But we gave the players what they wanted and the staff what that they wanted. Remarkably, after what we have been through, our players walked off smiling and that's the most important thing for me. Not one player wanted to stop, they were absolutely firm on that."

England defender Tyrone Mings to BBC Radio 5 Live: "It was a great night for me personally. It was a really proud moment in my career. I hope everyone enjoys this moment and it isn't overshadowed. I am proud of how we dealt with it and took the appropriate steps. I could hear it as clear as day. It doesn't affect me too much. I feel more sorry for those people who feel they have to have those opinions.

"I am very proud of everyone for the decisions we made. It's important not to generalise the whole country. It was a minority, not a representation of the country."

Goals flowing for England - the best of the stats

  • England have faced Bulgaria without losing more times than they have any other opponent in their history (P12, W8, D4, L0).
  • Only Belgium (30) and Russia (27) have scored more goals than England in Euro 2020 qualifying (26).
  • Bulgaria suffered their heaviest ever home defeat in a European Championship/World Cup qualifier.
  • England have scored five or more goals in four different matches in 2019, their joint-most in a single calendar year (also in 1937 and 1908). Indeed, they had only scored five or more goals in four matches across the last six calendar years combined (2013-2018).
  • All six of Barkley's goals for England have been away from home - only Freddie Steele (eight) and James Windridge (seven) scored more for the Three Lions without netting at home.
  • Sterling has been directly involved in 13 goals in Euro 2020 qualifying (eight goals, five assists). Only Russia's Artem Dzyuba has been involved in more (14).
  • Kane has been directly involved in 15 goals in his last 10 games for England in all competitions (nine goals, six assists). In this match he registered three assists in a game for the first time for the Three Lions.
  • Rashford's opener was his eighth goal for England - his first five came in home games, while his last three have come outside England.

Line-ups

Bulgaria

  • 23Iliev
  • 4Pashov
  • 15Terziev
  • 8SarmovSubstituted forKraevat 45'minutes
  • 21Hadzhiev
  • 3Zanev
  • 11Despodov
  • 10Popov
  • 7Kostadinov
  • 9Cristaldo FariasSubstituted forMalinovat 76'minutes
  • 19Isa MustafaSubstituted forIvanovat 68'minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Ivanov
  • 2Lozev
  • 5Dimitrov
  • 6Slavchev
  • 12Kraev
  • 13Mihaylov
  • 14Nedyalkov
  • 16Malinov
  • 17Nascimento da Costa
  • 18Ivanov
  • 20Goranov
  • 22Karagaren

England

  • 1Pickford
  • 2Trippier
  • 6Maguire
  • 5Mings
  • 3Chilwell
  • 8HendersonBooked at 4mins
  • 4Winks
  • 10BarkleySubstituted forMountat 73'minutes
  • 7SterlingSubstituted forSanchoat 73'minutes
  • 9Kane
  • 11RashfordSubstituted forC Wilsonat 76'minutes

Substitutes

  • 12Alexander-Arnold
  • 13Pope
  • 14Keane
  • 15Gomez
  • 16Rice
  • 17Sancho
  • 18Tomori
  • 19Abraham
  • 20Mount
  • 21C Wilson
  • 22Henderson
Referee:
Ivan Bebek
Attendance:
17,481

Match Stats

Home TeamBulgariaAway TeamEngland
Possession
Home28%
Away72%
Shots
Home4
Away20
Shots on Target
Home2
Away13
Corners
Home2
Away2
Fouls
Home6
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Bulgaria 0, England 6.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Bulgaria 0, England 6.

  3. Post update

    Callum Wilson (England) hits the right post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Harry Kane.

  4. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jadon Sancho (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Callum Wilson.

  5. Post update

    Attempt saved. Mason Mount (England) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

  6. Goal!

    Goal! Bulgaria 0, England 6. Harry Kane (England) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom left corner.

  7. Post update

    Harry Kane (England) hits the left post with a right footed shot from the centre of the box. Assisted by Jordan Henderson.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Callum Wilson (England).

  9. Post update

    Georgi Pashov (Bulgaria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Offside, Bulgaria. Kristiyan Malinov tries a through ball, but Galin Ivanov is caught offside.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Jordan Henderson (England).

  12. Post update

    Bozhidar Kraev (Bulgaria) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  13. Post update

    Mason Mount (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Galin Ivanov (Bulgaria).

  15. Post update

    Mason Mount (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  16. Post update

    Foul by Georgi Kostadinov (Bulgaria).

  17. Substitution

    Substitution, Bulgaria. Kristiyan Malinov replaces Wanderson.

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, England. Callum Wilson replaces Marcus Rashford.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Mason Mount (England) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right is high and wide to the right.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, England. Jadon Sancho replaces Raheem Sterling.

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1England65012662015
2Czech Rep6402119212
3Kosovo63211210211
4Montenegro7034315-123
5Bulgaria7034517-123

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Ukraine76101521319
2Portugal6321146811
3Serbia63121213-110
4Luxembourg6114511-64
5Lithuania7016519-141

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Netherlands65011971215
2Germany65012061415
3Northern Ireland640287112
4Belarus7115412-84
5Estonia7016221-191

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1R. of Ireland633062412
2Denmark63301651112
3Switzerland522110558
4Georgia612348-45
5Gibraltar5005016-160

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Croatia7421146814
2Hungary740389-112
3Slovakia6312108210
4Wales62226608
5Azerbaijan6015514-91

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Spain76101841419
2Sweden7421178914
3Romania7412167913
4Norway7241129310
5Malta7106217-153
6Faroe Islands7007323-200

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Poland86111321119
2Austria85121771016
3North Macedonia83231011-111
4Slovenia8323138511
5Israel72231214-28
6Latvia7007124-230

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Turkey86111631319
2France86112151619
3Iceland85031210215
4Albania84041410412
5Andorra8107116-153
6Moldova8107222-203

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Belgium88003012924
2Russia87012742321
3Cyprus83141312110
4Scotland83051117-69
5Kazakhstan8215913-47
6San Marino8008043-430

J

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Italy77002031721
2Finland740398112
3Armenia73131312110
4Bos-Herze73131612410
5Greece7124712-55
6Liechtenstein7025220-182
View full European Championship Qualifying tables

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