Winks, Mount Net First England Goals In Kosovo Rout

England’s Harry Winks (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying Group A football match between Kosovo and England in Prishtina on November 17, 2019.
Robert ATANASOVSKI / AFP

 

England wrapped up their impressive Euro 2020 qualifying campaign with a 4-0 rout of Kosovo on Sunday as maiden international goals from Harry Winks and Mason Mount ensured they will be among the top six seeds in next year’s tournament.

Gareth Southgate’s side booked their Euro 2020 berth by thrashing Montenegro 7-0 on Thursday and they finished a dominant run by dispatching Kosovo in Pristina thanks to goals from Winks, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Mount.

Although England weren’t at their best, it was a rewarding finale for the Group A winners, who clinched the high seeding that should help them avoid a tough group in the finals.

Winks’ maiden England goal, in his sixth appearance, was the key moment before second-half strikes from Kane and Rashford and Mount’s first international goal.

READ ALSO: Defending Champions Portugal Qualify For Euro 2020

With all three of their Euro 2020 group games and the semi-finals and final being played at home for England, the 2018 World Cup semi-finalists will go into the November 30 draw as one of the main contenders for the trophy.

In contrast to the racist abuse that marred England’s qualifiers in Montenegro and Bulgaria, the gratitude still felt in Kosovo for the United Kingdom’s involvement in the country’s liberation, after the Kosovan war in the 1990s, was clear to see.

Before kick-off, the stadium announcer addressed the crowd with the words: “We always appreciate your support in the most difficult days. Twenty years on, we are here as equals. God bless you England.”

Kosovo supporters shouted the names of the England players and held up the flag of St George cards.

The loudest cheers were reserved for Sterling, who was back in the England team after the winger was dropped against Montenegro following his clash with Liverpool’s Joe Gomez in the canteen of England’s training base on Monday.

Sterling had England’s first sight of goal when he took Kane’s pass and made space for a stinging strike that drew a solid save from Arijanet Muric.

Kane Milestone

With footing on the Fadil Vokrri Stadium pitch proving difficult, England struggled to find their rhythm at times and Kosovo’s Milot Rashica took advantage to test Burnley keeper Nick Pope, who was making his first start.

Winks supplied the breakthrough in the 32nd minute when the Tottenham midfielder ran onto Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass, evaded the obligingly slow-to-react Kosovo defence and slotted home with ease.

Throughout a comfortable qualifying campaign, the main concern for Southgate has been England’s erratic defending and they were nearly exposed when Amir Rrahmani was left unmarked to head just wide early in the second half.

That shaky rearguard creaked again moments later as Rrahmani found himself in acres of space but headed woefully wide with the goal at his mercy.

England’s class told in the second half and Kane hit the post with a snap-shot from Sterling’s pass.

The same pair linked up for a milestone second goal in the 79th minute.

Sterling eased past his marker and sent in a deflected cross that England captain Kane finished off at the far post.

Kane has netted in all eight qualifiers and is the first England player for over 90 years to score 12 international goals in a calendar year.

It was also England’s 35th goal of the qualifying campaign, breaking their previous record total from the 2010 World Cup qualifiers.

There was still time for Rashford to slot home from Sterling’s pass in the 83rd minute before Mount took Kane’s delivery and coolly finished in stoppage time.

AFP

Liverpool’s Joe Gomez Suffers Sore Knee Injury

England's defender Joe Gomez warms up ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying first round Group A football match between England and Montenegro at Wembley Stadium in London on November 14, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP
England’s defender Joe Gomez warms up ahead of the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying first round Group A football match between England and Montenegro at Wembley Stadium in London on November 14, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Liverpool full-back Joe Gomez’s rollercoaster week, from the high of beating Manchester City last Sunday to being booed at Wembley on Thursday, ended with him missing England’s final Euro 2020 qualifier in Kosovo due to a sore knee.

The 22-year-old — whose Liverpool team-mate Jordan Henderson also misses the trip to Kosovo with a viral infection — featured in the headlines earlier in the week after City striker Raheem Sterling confronted him at England’s training centre on Monday, the day after Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over City.

Gomez was booed when he came on as a substitute in the 7-0 mauling of Montenegro, while Henderson missed it due to a one-match ban.

Victory assured England of a place at the finals.

“Jordan Henderson and Joe Gomez will miss England’s final UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier in Kosovo on Sunday,” read a statement from the Football Association (FA).

“Henderson arrived in camp with a viral infection that has not fully cleared.

“Meanwhile, his Liverpool team-mate Gomez sustained a knock to the knee in training on Friday and has not recovered sufficiently enough to travel.

“The pair have returned to their club meaning the Three Lions will head to Pristina on Saturday with a 23-man squad.”

England may have assured themselves of a place in the finals but Southgate wants a win on Sunday to ensure they are seeded in the top six.

Sterling is expected to play a role after being dropped for the Montenegro game due to the Gomez incident, for which he apologised.

Kosovo will be in the play-offs next March having progressed through the Nations League, so their dream of reaching a first major tournament finals is still alive.

 

AFP

Malan, Morgan Blast England To Overwhelming Win Over New Zealand

 

A whirlwind century by Dawid Malan in a record-breaking stand with Eoin Morgan saw England crush New Zealand in the fourth Twenty20 by 76 runs in Napier on Friday to level the series with one game remaining.

Malan was unbeaten on 103 at the close of the England innings with Morgan out in the final over for 91 as England posted an imposing 241 for three and then rolled New Zealand for 165 with 19 balls remaining.

The overwhelming victory set up a winner-takes-all finale in the fifth and final game in Auckland on Sunday.

Malan’s 48-ball century was the fastest T20 hundred by an Englishman, his 182-run stand with Morgan is the highest by an England pair and the 241 total is an England record.

Morgan’s 21-ball 50 is also an England record.

“The message is always the same, play aggressively and back yourself,” Malan said. “It’s not very often you have days like that when every time you have a hack at one it lands safe or goes for six. It’s as good as it gets.”

Between them, the two left-handers hit 13 sixes and 16 fours with Mitchell Santner and Trent Boult the only New Zealand bowlers to escape with a run rate below 10 an over.

New Zealand started their run chase at a fast clip reaching 54 in the fifth over when Martin Guptill was dismissed for 27 and wickets fell regularly after that.

Only Tim Southee (39) and Colin Munro (30) offered any further resistance while Matt Parkinson took four for 47 for England and Chris Jordan finished with two for 24.

Malan is only the second England player to score a T20 century after Alex Hales, who needed 60 balls to reach his hundred.

He advanced from 61 to 89 in a brutal attack in an Ish Sodhi over when he belted three sixes, two fours and a two, and reached his maiden century pulling Boult over the square-leg boundary for another six.

It was a much-need confidence booster for England who won the first match in the series and were then well outplayed in the next two.

After losing the toss, England then lost early wickets with Santner removing Jonny Bairstow for eight and Tom Banton for 31 to have the impressive figures of two for five from his first two overs.

But that changed dramatically as Morgan and Malan took charge and blasted 20 off Santner’s next over.

Of the New Zealand bowlers, Blair Tickner finished with none for 50 off his four overs, while Sodhi had none for 49 off three overs and Southee bowled his full complement to finish with one for 47.

South Africa Overpower England 32-12 To Win Rugby World Cup

South Africa Overpower England 32-12 To Win Rugby World Cup
South Africa’s flanker Siya Kolisi (C) lifts the Webb Ellis Cup as they celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

 

South Africa overpowered England 32-12 with a brutally effective forward display to win their third World Cup in Yokohama on Saturday.

The Springboks’ victory was built on a colossal display by their powerhouse pack that allowed fly-half Handre Pollard to kick six penalties before Makazole Mapimpi’s 66th-minute try — the first the Springboks had scored in a World Cup final — and another from fit-again fellow flyer Cheslin Kolbe put the result beyond doubt.

The victory ensured South Africa made it three wins from three World Cup final appearances and maintained their record of being crowned champions at 12-year intervals following their 1995 and 2007 triumphs.

Saturday’s win also saw South Africa become the first team to win a World Cup having lost in pool play, with the Springboks beaten by reigning champions New Zealand in their Japan 2019 opener.

It was a tactical triumph for South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus, who has overseen a Springbok revival after taking charge two years ago following a miserable 2016, and an inspirational moment for captain Siya Kolisi, the team’s first black captain.

Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

For England, four years on from the humiliation of their first-round exit on home soil in 2015, which led them to appoint Australian coach Eddie Jones, it was a match too far after their quarter-final and semi-final wins over Australia and New Zealand.

A third defeat in four finals for England was also their second by South Africa, who defeated them 15-6 in the 2007 showpiece when Jones was a consultant to the Springboks.

And it meant there was no repeat of England’s 2003 World Cup final triumph when they beat an Australia side coached by Jones.

England suffered a cruel blow in just the third minute when prop Kyle Sinckler went off after colliding with team-mate Maro Itoje as the lock tried to tackle Mapimpi.

South Africa Beat England 32-12 To Win Rugby World Cup
South Africa’s players (green) celebrate at the end of the match. Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP

 

South Africa’s forward pressure was rewarded in the ninth minute when England captain Owen Farrell was penalised for holding on.

Farrell equalised but South Africa forced a scrum penalty which Pollard, the goal-kicking hero of their 16-13 semi-final win over Wales, landed.

England, who had made such an impressive start to their stunning 19-7 semi-final victory over New Zealand, were struggling to get their backs into the game but Ford’s penalty allowed them to win a line-out the edge of the Springboks’ 22.

At last England could launch wrecking-ball centre Manu Tuilagi as they drove to within a metre of the Springboks’ line, but excellent rush defence stopped them in their tracks before Farrell’s 35th-minute penalty again levelled the match at 6-6.

Pollard, however, ensured South Africa led again with a 47-metre penalty and they were 12-6 up at the break after veteran prop Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira forced Dan Cole, Sinckler’s replacement, into conceding a scrum-penalty again kicked by Pollard.

Early in the second half, Erasmus ensured there was no let-up by bringing on props Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Kock — two of six forwards from among his ‘bomb squad’ of replacements — and their very first set-piece saw England concede a fourth scrum penalty of the game.

Pollard was again on target from the tee.

England, however, managed a scrum penalty of their own in the 50th minute and Farrell succeeded from some 40 metres to cut South Africa’s lead to 15-9.

South Africa, making no secret of their tactics, formed a nine-man maul that forced England offside in the backline to give Pollard a simple penalty in front of the posts that put the Springboks two scores ahead at 18-9.

Farrell, England’s lone points-scorer, reduced the gap only for the Springboks to surge clear.

There were two hints of a forward pass in the build-up to Mapimi’s try after his kick ahead was passed back to him by centre Lukhanyo Am, but referee Jerome Garces let the score stand after consulting the television match official.

But there was no doubt about Kolbe’s effort as he sped past Farrell and prop Joe Marler.

Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

 

AFP

 

England, South Africa Clash In Rugby World Cup Final For The Ages

 

 

England and South Africa will collide in a Rugby World Cup final between the two most powerful teams around on Saturday as they bid to become the first side to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in Asia.

A bruising encounter is in prospect in Yokohama after England outmuscled a stunned All Blacks side in the semi-finals and the Springboks ground their way past defence-minded Wales.

If Eddie Jones’s England clinch the title, they will have beaten Australia, New Zealand and South Africa on consecutive weekends — the first World Cup treble over the southern hemisphere powerhouses.

South Africa are looking to keep up their perfect record in World Cup finals, after they lifted the trophy in front of Nelson Mandela in 1995 and beat England 15-6 in 2007.

But they will also have to make history as the first team to lose a match at the tournament and still win the trophy, after their 23-13 pool reverse to the All Blacks.

Despite being the youngest finalists in the professional era, England start as favourites after they dethroned reigning champions New Zealand 19-7 in impressive fashion.

But England may want to cast their minds back to the 2003 final, when a nerve-shredding game went to extra time before Jonny Wilkinson kicked the winning drop goal in the dying seconds against Australia.

“Finals go to the wire, they generally aren’t one-sided,” Jake White, South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach in 2007, told Sky Sports.

“I just feel a lot of things are in South Africa’s favour. They have an incredible bench and if it does go to the wire they could be really strong at the back-end of the game.”

‘Rainbow Nation’

While much is at stake for both sides, national unity is the goal for South Africa who stand to have a black captain, Siya Kolisi, lift the trophy for the first time.

The story of Kolisi, born in a poor township to a teenage mother, is inspirational for South Africans and victory on Saturday would rival 1995, when Mandela was on hand to congratulate Boks captain Francois Pienaar in a potent symbol of reconciliation.

Kolisi, 28, is in no doubt about the importance of the game for the “Rainbow Nation”.

“The president (Cyril Ramaphosa) was speaking about it in parliament, asking the whole country to wear Springbok jerseys today and, if you’re in a car, to hoot at one o’clock,” Kolisi said.

“We know how much rugby means to our country and what it has done in the past.

“I’m really proud of the way we have performed as a team and it would be a huge moment for us to lift the trophy. Huge for the team, huge for the country.”

England haven’t beaten South Africa at the World Cup since 2003, after famously losing to Jannie de Beer’s five drop goals in the 1999 quarter-finals and going down twice to the Springboks in 2007.

That final 12 years ago was a tense affair, when England had a crucial try disallowed by the Television Match Official and South Africa kicked their way to the title with five penalties.

The last of the penalties was kicked by Frans Steyn, who is on the bench on Saturday and, ominously for England, has never been on the losing side in 16 World Cup games.

However, England appeared calm and confident in the build-up and they have won three of their last five Tests against Rassie Erasmus’s team.

“We’ve had four years to prepare for this game,” said Jones.

“We’ve got good tactical clarity about how we want to play, we’re fit, we’re enjoying the tournament — the only sadness is that the tournament is going to end.”

Bulgaria Get Stadium Ban After England Racism

England’s forward Harry Kane (C) speaks with the referees during a temporary interruption of the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England due to incidents with fans, at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on October 14, 2019. AFP

 

Bulgaria must play their next home game behind closed doors and have been handed a fine of 75,000 euros ($83,000) after racist chanting by supporters marred their Euro 2020 qualifier against England earlier this month, UEFA said Tuesday.

The disciplinary arm of European football’s governing body also ordered Bulgaria to play a second match behind closed doors, but that punishment is suspended for a “probationary period” of two years.

The punishment means Bulgaria will play their final Euro 2020 qualifier at home to the Czech Republic, on November 17, in an empty stadium.

UEFA also ordered Bulgaria to display a banner with the wording “No to racism” at their next two home games.

The Bulgarian FA was also fined an additional 10,000 euros for “causing a disturbance during a national anthem” prior to kick-off of the game in Sofia on October 14, which England won 6-0. The English FA was fined 5,000 euros for the same offence.

The match at the Vasil Levski Stadium was halted twice in the first half due to abuse from sections of the home support, including monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes.

Despite the abuse, the England team opted to complete the match instead of walking off the pitch.

The game was played in a stadium already partially closed after racist incidents during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

The incidents caused indignation in the football world and were condemned both by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov.

The subsequent fall-out led to Bulgaria coach Krasimir Balakov resigning along with the country’s FA chief, Borislav Mihaylov.

In the wake of the incidents, Bulgarian police said they had identified 16 people suspected of being involved in the “abusive actions”.

Bulgaria are winless in seven Euro 2020 qualifiers — losing four and drawing three — and occupy last place in Group A.

AFP

England Stun New Zealand In Classic To Reach World Cup Final

New Zealand’s wing Sevu Reece (L) and England’s full back Elliot Daly reach for the ball during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between England and New Zealand at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on October 26, 2019. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Fly-half George Ford led the way as England ended New Zealand’s eight-year reign as champions with a superb 19-7 World Cup semi-final win in Yokohama on Saturday.

Ford, restored at 10 by coach Eddie Jones, took over goal-kicking duties after England captain Owen Farrell took a knock but he landed four penalty attempts after Manu Tuilagi stunned the All Blacks with an early try.

This was just England’s eighth win in 42 Tests against New Zealand and meant the All Blacks had lost their first World Cup match since a shock 2007 quarter-final defeat by France.

England’s first World Cup win over the two-time defending champions puts them into their fourth final — just four years after their embarrassing first-round exit on home soil.

“Our best form of attack is our defence. We create opportunities through our defence to attack,” said England coach Eddie Jones, who has masterminded the turnaround.

“I’d like to pay the greatest compliment to New Zealand. They’ve won two World Cups in a row. They’ve been a really great team and and we had to dig really deep to beat them.”

England, world champions in 2003 when they beat an Australia side coached by Jones in the final, will now face the winners of Sunday’s match between South Africa and Wales in next week’s showpiece clash.

Their victory ended the tenure of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who is stepping down after overseeing a sensational run when they lost only 10 of 106 Tests.

 ‘Take that on the chin’ 

“I’m really proud of our team. They’ve done a tremendous job for their country and tonight we just weren’t good enough,” said Hansen.

“So we have to take that on the chin and so does everybody back home and our fans.”

England led 10-0 at the break thanks to Tuilagi’s converted try and the first of Ford’s penalties after a superb forward effort led by locks Courtney Lawes and Maro Itoje saw them dominate territory and possession.

Another Ford penalty early in the second half made it 13-0 but the All Blacks eventually broke a defence coached by former New Zealand boss John Mitchell in the 57th minute, when Ardie Savea crashed over for a converted try.

But Sam Underhill’s tackle on the recalled Scott Barrett led to a simple penalty in front of the posts that Ford duly kicked.

Jones had recalled Ford at fly-half following the 40-16 quarter-final win over Australia, moving Farrell to inside centre.

Before kick-off England, unusually, lined up in an inverted ‘V’ formation, crossing the half-way line as the All Blacks performed their traditional pre-match haka.

And there were fewer than two minutes on the clock when England scored a brilliant team try.

Fullback Elliot Daly made a fine break down the right that was carried on by wing Anthony Watson before the ball was worked across field, with hooker Jamie George charging forward.

 Disallowed tries 

Ford then found prop Kyle Sinckler and he in turn released Lawes, who took the ball to the All Blacks’ line.

From the ensuing ruck, powerhouse centre Tuilagi — one of England’s try-scorers when they last beat the All Blacks seven years ago — forced his way between guard props Joe Moody and Nepo Laulala for a fine try.

Farrell converted and England led 7-0.

They almost had a second try minutes later when Tuilagi intercepted and found Farrell who passed to Jonny May.

But great corner-flagging by recalled flanker Scott Barrett stopped the wing in his tracks.

England made several more early visits to New Zealand’s 22 only for their own errors to cost them the chance of further points.

Underhill, who had a try against New Zealand last year controversially disallowed, went over in the 25th minute but referee Nigel Owens correctly ruled out the score for crossing by fellow flanker Tom Curry in the build-up.

Ford’s drop goal attempt sailed well wide of the right post but he made no mistake with a 45-metre penalty after a limping Farrell was unable to take the shot.

England thought they had their second try when, following a drive off an attacking line-out, scrum-half Ben Youngs went over after selling centre Anton Lienert-Brown a dummy.

But Owens ruled it out for a knock-on in the maul.

Another Ford penalty extended the lead but George’s overthrown line-out near England’s line was collected by Savea, with fly-half Richie Mo’unga converting.

That, however, was as close as New Zealand got as two more Ford penalties created an unbridgeable gap for the defending champions.

AFP

England Send Out World Cup Message With Big Win Over Australia

England’s lock Maro Itoje (R) catches the ball in a lineout during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match between England and Australia at the Oita Stadium in Oita on October 19, 2019.
CHRISTOPHE SIMON / AFP

 

England showed they will take some beating at the Rugby World Cup as they thumped their old enemy Australia 40-16 to become the first team to reach the semi-finals on Saturday.

Wing Jonny May scored the first two of England’s four tries in three first-half minutes as they set up a last-four clash against defending champions New Zealand or Ireland, who play later.

Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson crossed in the second half and 20 points flowed from Owen Farrell’s perfect kicking as Eddie Jones’s men throttled the Wallabies’ attempts to claw their way back into it.

“We did what’s needed. We had the lead and obviously Australia were throwing everything at us,” said Farrell. “We wanted to play the game at our pace not theirs, and we did that in the second half.”

With his contract up after the World Cup, the defeat appears to have ended Michael Cheika’s five-year stint as Wallabies coach whose highlight was reaching the World Cup final in 2015.

“The better team won, that’s the way it is. You’ve got to suck that up sometimes,” said a disconsolate Cheika, a former team-mate of Jones at Sydney’s Randwick club.

“I was supposed to get this done for the people here and the Australians. It’s so disappointing.”

Australia looked dangerous early on but England seized the advantage with May’s quickfire try double.

England stretched the Australian defence as they attacked right and then left, before man of the match Tom Curry drew the final defender to give the left wing an easy score in the corner.

Henry Slade then intercepted the ball on halfway and raced towards the try-line before chipping into space with a kick that was deftly gathered by the England wing.

‘Little bit Surreal’

Three Christian Lealiifano penalties kept Australia in touch at 17-9 at half-time, and they came storming back after the restart when Marika Koroibete skinned Elliot Daly to cross for the Wallabies.

But England hit back almost immediately when Farrell picked out Sinckler with a bullet pass and the prop burst through a gap for his first international try.

Watson’s late intercept try completed the job for England, who equalled their record margin of victory against Australia — and beat them for a third time in the World Cup quarter-finals.

In Saturday’s second match the All Blacks, going for their third straight title, will start as firm favourites against an Ireland team who are yet to hit their stride in Japan.

However, both teams are mindful of the fact that Ireland have won two of their last three games against the world’s top-ranked side, after 2016’s 40-29 win in Chicago and a 16-9 victory in Dublin last year.

Conor Murray and World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton, one of the world’s most settled and formidable half-back pairings, lead Irish hopes against a youthful New Zealand backline.

Beauden Barrett remains at fullback behind fly-half Richie Mo’unga in Hansen’s double playmaker ploy, while Jack Goodhue comes into the centres and Sevu Reece and George Bridge are on the wings.

“It’s a little bit surreal, it’s a little bit ‘I can’t believe it’s finally here’. This time four years ago I was a spectator like you guys and it’s not a great place to be,” said Sexton, who missed Ireland’s 2015 quarter-final — a 43-20 defeat to Argentina — with a groin strain.

“So I’m really looking forward to going out there on the biggest stage and trying to show what we can do against the best team in the world, a team that hasn’t lost for two World Cups.”

On Sunday, Wales face France in Oita and hosts Japan, the tournament’s surprise package, play the first World Cup quarter-final in their history against South Africa in Tokyo.

Six Arrested Over Racist Abuse At England Match

England’s forward Harry Kane (C) speaks with the referees during a temporary interruption of the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England at the Vasil Levski National Stadium in Sofia on October 14, 2019. NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP

 

Six Bulgarians have been detained over racist abuse at a Euro 2020 qualifier against England that sparked a storm of protest and led to the resignation of the country’s football chief, police said Wednesday.

Monkey chants and apparent Nazi salutes overshadowed England’s 6-0 win in Sofia on Monday, with the match halted twice during the first half due to the abuse.

“Six people have been detained and another three are being actively sought,” Sofia police chief commissioner Georgy Hadzhiev told journalists.

Hadzhiev added that so far 15 people have been singled out via CCTV at the Vasil Levski National Stadium as being suspected of directing abuse against England’s black players.

Police in the central city of Plovdiv said they were calling in for questioning 13 others, who were allegedly also part of the group of black-clad men who sparked trouble at the game, according to public BNR radio.

Penalties for the offences carry brief detentions, fines and bans from sporting events.

In total, 15,000 people watched the match at a stadium already partially closed after racist incidents during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

England manager Gareth Southgate told reporters after the game that his side had been ready to walk off the pitch if the abusive behaviour continued but players decided to complete the match.

The incident sparked a storm of angry reactions from fans, media and officials in both countries.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the “vile” racism, while his Bulgarian counterpart Boyko Borisov forced the country’s football federation chief Borislav Mihaylov to offer his resignation on Tuesday.

In a statement late Tuesday, Bulgarian national team manager Krasimir Balakov offered his apologies to the England player.

The scandal divided Bulgarians — while many apologised in posts on social media about what they said was a pervasive problem in the country, others refused to be identified with the offenders and condemned British media headlines that called all Bulgarians “racists” and “animals”.

UEFA announced that it was launching a probe into the behaviour of both the Bulgaria and England fans. Its president Aleksander Ceferin stressed the commitment of European football’s governing body to root out the “disease” of racism.

UEFA Opens Probe Into Bulgarian Racism Against England

Three Ministers Resign Over Deadly Bus Crash

 

UEFA have launched disciplinary proceedings against Bulgaria after racist chanting from their fans during their Euro 2020 qualifier defeat by England, the governing body announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, UEFA said that they were investigating racist behaviour, the throwing of objects and the disruption of the national anthem after the match in Sofia had to be halted twice after monkey noises and Nazi salutes from a section of the home support.

England won the Group A match 6-0.

AFP

Bulgaria Football Chief Resigns After Racist Abuse

England’s forward Harry Kane (C) speaks with the referees during a temporary interruption of the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England on October 14, 2019. NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV / AFP

 

Bulgaria’s football union chief resigned Tuesday, a day after a match against England was twice halted because of racist abuse.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov had urged Borislav Mihaylov, the president of the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU), to immediately step down following Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Sofia.

The match, which England won 6-0, was halted twice after England players were targeted by racist chanting.

The BFU said in a statement on its website that Mihaylov presented his resignation Tuesday and would hand it to the members of the BFU executive committee during its meeting Friday.

“His decision resulted from the tension created over the past days, which is detrimental to Bulgarian football and the Bulgarian Football Union,” the statement said.

Borisov said on Facebook that it was “inadmissible that Bulgaria… is associated with racism and xenophobia” and he “categorically condemned the behaviour of some of those present at the stadium”.

Earlier Tuesday, BFU media chief Hristo Zapryanov had said his union was not to blame for the trouble, dismissing Monday’s incidents as “inadmissable” but saying the BFU had no power “to investigate and to track hooligans”.

England manager Gareth Southgate said his side had made a statement by deciding to complete the match instead of leaving the pitch in the face of the abuse, calling it “an unacceptable situation”.

Mihaylov has headed the football federation since 2005. During his time in charge Bulgaria have failed to qualify for any major tournament.

Before the game, he had urged UEFA to stop “tensions” after England forward Tammy Abraham said his team was prepared to walk off the pitch if they faced abuse during Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Mihaylov had said the BFU had made “extreme efforts and measures… to ensure a fair and safe environment”.

Racist Abuse Disrupts England Euro Match In Bulgaria

England’s forward Harry Kane (C) speaks with the referees during a temporary interruption of the Euro 2020 Group A football qualification match between Bulgaria and England. AFP

 

England’s Euro 2020 qualifier in Bulgaria was twice halted in the first-half due to racist chanting in Sofia.

The Three Lions led 2-0 through early goals from Marcus Rashford and Ross Barkley when play was first stopped and an announcement made to supporters that the game could be suspended if offensive chanting continued.

Once restarted, England quickly made it 3-0 through Barkley. Then play  was interrupted a second time as Croatian referee Ivan Bebek held discussions with players and coaching staff from both sides.

In total, played was halted for six minutes.

Raheem Sterling added a fourth England goal before half-time.

A section of 5,000 seats at the Vasil Levski National Stadium was already closed for the game after racism during games against Kosovo and the Czech Republic in June.

Sterling was also the subject of racist abuse from a Bulgarian fan when the sides met last month in England’s 4-0 win at Wembley.

On the eve of the match, Bulgaria manager Krasimir Balakov claimed that there is a bigger problem with racism in English football than in his country.

“In the Bulgarian championship, we have a lot of players of different ethnicities and skin colour,” said Balakov.

“I don’t think that we have this big problem like, for example, England do.”

After several England players suffered racist abuse in a qualifier away to Montenegro in March, Gareth Southgate had prepared his side to follow UEFA’s three-step protocol for reporting racist incidents that can lead to matches being abandoned.