England tore Panama to shreds in the first half in Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, with the gulf in class so big that Panama’s manager Hernán Darío Gómez appeared to tell his opposite number, Gareth Southgate, to go easy on his team in the second half.
John Stones, ‘the Barnsley Beckenbauer’, scored two from set plays, Jesse Lingard notched a wonderful strike and Harry Kane bagged two emphatic penalties to put the Three Lions 5-0 up at half-time in what was easily England’s best half of football in a World Cup game.
Gomez, the Panama gaffer, would have undoubtedly been fearing the worst and went over to Southgate for a little chat in the dugout just before the second half.
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And going off the mannerisms and open palm hand gesture, plenty reckon he was telling the England boss to take it easy and get his team to rest on five goals.
Gomez’s requests were not adhered to as Kane added a sixth for England, following in the footsteps of Geoff Hurst and Gary Lineker in becoming the third English player to score a World Cup hat-trick.
But Panama and their fans did have something to cheer about when 37-year old substitute Felipe Baloy pulled one back and sent their supporters wild in the 78th minute.
England are now top of group G ahead of Belgium only on fair play, having been shown one less yellow card than Thursday’s opponents.