England all but qualify as Albania caned

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England captain Harry Kane plundered a hat-trick before half-time in a 5-0 hammering of sorry Albania at Wembley to all but guarantee his side a spot in next year's World Cup finals in Qatar.

Two draws in their last three Group I matches for Gareth Southgate's team had opened the door slightly ajar for chasing Poland in the qualification race, but Kane slammed it shut in memorable fashion as he moved level in fourth place on England's all-time scoring list.

Defender Harry Maguire settled any early nerves with a ninth-minute headed opener before Kane's spree began when he headed in from close range in the 18th.

With Albania in disarray Jordan Henderson weaved his way through to make it 3-0 before Kane powered in his second from a tight angle and then completed his fourth England hat-trick with a stunning overhead kick on the stroke of half-time.

It moved him level on 44 goals for the national team with former Tottenham Hotspur great Jimmy Greaves, who died in September.

The second half was a non-event but the fans cared not as with one match remaining England have 23 points to Poland's 20 and a far better goal difference ahead of the formality of a trip to group whipping boys San Marino on Monday.

Albania's capitulation ended their slender hopes of grabbing a playoff spot as they are now five points behind Poland.

"Everyone was ready for this one and came out on fire and got the three points," said Kane.

"Whenever I get chances I feel I'm going to score and there was quite a few out there today. I could have had six on another night."

In Rome, Italy midfielder Jorginho blazed a late penalty over the bar as his side were held to a 1-1 draw by Switzerland in their Group C World Cup qualifier at the Stadio Olimpico, leaving both sides with a chance of automatic qualification for Qatar.

With 15 points from seven games and the winners going through to the finals, Italy top the group on goal difference ahead of the Swiss, with Northern Ireland third on eight points.

Italy are away to Northern Ireland in their final qualifier on Monday, while the Swiss host fourth-placed Bulgaria.

Switzerland took an early lead when Noah Okafor teed up full back Silvan Widmer to fire a piledriver into the back of the net, shocking the home crowd in the 11th minute.

Italy struck back after the half-hour mark through a cleverly-worked free kick from Lorenzo Insigne that Giovanni Di Lorenzo nipped in ahead of Swiss keeper Yann Sommer to head home.

Italy had a golden opportunity in the final minute of normal time as a VAR review led to a penalty awarded for a foul on Domenico Berardi by Ulisses Garcia, but Jorginho blasted the ball over the bar with the Swiss escaping with a draw.

Scotland advanced to the European playoffs in World Cup qualifying by winning 2-0 at Moldova to clinch second place in Group F behind Denmark, who eased to a ninth straight win with a 3-1 victory over the Faroe Islands.

Seeking a first World Cup place since 1998, Scotland got goals from defender Nathan Patterson in the 38th minute and forward Che Adams in the 65th.

There were also wins for Hungary, Northern Ireland, Austria and Poland over San Marino, Lithuania, Israel and Andorra respectively.

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