England went into last night’s game knowing that they needed to bounce back following a disappointing loss to Czech Republic, which was their first in qualifying for 10 years. They need not have worried about the result, though, with England cruising to a 6-0 win as reported by BBC and Evening Standard.
Rashford, Barkley and Sterling combined for four goals prior to half time, but before that, the ugly side of the international game appeared once more as the game had to be stopped on several occasions due to reports of racist chanting from the Bulgarian fans.
After the break things seemed to settle down ever so slightly, with Sterling getting his second goal prior to Harry Kane finally getting on the scoresheet with five minutes of normal time remaining.
The win was impressive but the racism on display was one of the worst sights we’ve seen at this level in quite some time.
It wasn’t employed by every single Bulgaria fan in attendance, but there was certainly a large contingent involved in these utterly detestable acts.
England manager Gareth Southgate had a mature response to the issues.
“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 & Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings also spoke after making his debut for the national team.
Get this hatred out of the game
“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.”
There will be questions raised about how this is going to be resolved, and rightly so. The hammer should be well and truly brought down upon Bulgaria in a big way and if that doesn’t happen, UEFA needs to take a long, hard look at themselves.
England managed to get the win, but we all know that wasn’t the real story, here.