Alexander-Arnold leads England to rout of Malta in Euro 2024 qualifying

Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates after scoring England's second goal against Malta in Euro 2024 qualifying.
Trent Alexander-Arnold celebrates after scoring England's second goal against Malta in Euro 2024 qualifying.
Valerio Pennicino - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

England tightened their grip on Euro 2024 qualifying Group C courtesy of a 4-0 win away to Malta with Trent Alexander-Arnold shining on his first international start for a year.

The Liverpool right back, deployed in midfield, scored one and was involved in England's other two goals before half-time as England cruised in the Ta' Qali National Stadium.

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His raking pass released Bukayo Saka in the eighth minute with his low cross being bundled in to his own goal by Malta's Ferdinando Apap under pressure from Harry Kane.

Alexander-Arnold powered home a right-foot shot for England's second in the 28th minute and was also involved in the move two minutes later that ended with Kane being tripped for a penalty he dispatched for his 56th England goal.

Malta dug in after halftime and were extremely unlucky to concede a fourth with a harshly-awarded penalty for handball converted by substitute Callum Wilson after 83 minutes.

England have nine points from three games, with Ukraine, Italy and North Macedonia all on three points from two games.

Manager Gareth Southgate left a clutch of Manchester City treble-winners on the bench after their exploits in Istanbul last Saturday with several players getting the chance to impress.

Alexander-Arnold, who has struggled to hold down a starting place under Southgate, certainly did that in the first half of what was only his 18th cap since making his debut five years ago.

"I enjoyed it. I love playing football and being on the pitch and representing my country," he told Channel 4.

"To play the full 90 minutes, I was happy. After the little break at the end of the season, it was about getting fitness back in my legs. I want to make sure I am regularly on the team sheet and today was a good foundation to build on."

The variety of his passing and power down the right was a constant threat and his pass sent Saka galloping away to pull a ball back towards Kane that was turned in by Apap.

His goal, his first competitive one for England, demonstrated his shooting prowess and he proved a handful again for the Malta defence as Kane earned the penalty with which he registered his 50th competitive international goal.

Saka was withdrawn at halftime with an ankle knock and replaced by City's Phil Foden while Eberechi Eze also earned a first cap when he came off the bench late on.

England's fourth goal was terribly harsh on Malta's Steve Borg who was adjudged to have handled Wilson's shot despite his arms being by his sides.

Wilson did not care as he stroked home his penalty with Kane already off the pitch.

England host North Macedonia on Monday when victory will give them one foot in next year's finals.