AAP Soccer

The biggest cheer is saved for Panama

By AAP Newswire

England did what was expected of them against World Cup finals debutants Panama on Sunday and dished out a Group G hiding.

They netted five goals before halftime - including two goals from defender John Stones and a sweetly-struck Jesse Lingard effort - and increased their advantage to six when Harry Kane completed his hat-trick on 62 minutes.

Gareth Southgate's side were on course for a record-breaking victory.

However, Panama refused to lay down and were rewarded with a 78th moment that will go down in history - their first World Cup goal.

The man to supply it was their 37-year-old captain Felipe Baloy, who slid in unmarked to direct a free kick into the net.

Cue delirium at Nizhy Novgorod Stadium; on the pitch, the sidelines and in the grandstands.

Even coach Hernan Dario Gomez was overwhelmed by the moment.

"Yes, I felt emotional," he said.

"He's at the end of his career and he's going to retire from the national team, and God gave him the opportunity because of his professionalism to have this beautiful goal."

The win secured England's passage into the last 16 along with Belgium, the two sides that have beaten Panama in their first two World Cup appearance.

Yet neither of the European soccer powers would have enjoyed Sunday any more than the Central Americans.

Group H is a three-horse race with the exciting 2-2 draw between Japan and Senegal and Colombia's 3-0 defeat of Poland sealing the fate of the underperforming Poles.

In Yekaterinburg, veteran midfielder Keisuke Honda came off the bench to salvage a point for Japan, who trailed on two occasions.

Colombia welcomed James Rodriguez to their starting XI and the playmaker provided the assist for two goals while captain Radamel Falcao scored his maiden World Cup goal.

Japan and Senegal are level on four points, with the same goal differential, while Colombia are a point behind.

Thursday's final group matches, Japan v Poland and Senegal v Colombia, will decide which teams progress to play Belgium or England, who clash in Kaliningrad with top spot on the line, in the round of 16.