NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia — In humidity usually so debilitating for England, the goals flowed freely.
A 6-1 rout of Panama on Sunday — led by Harry Kane’s hat trick — was the national team’s largest-ever victory margin at the World Cup.
“The way we played, the discipline, the hard work, and that’s what we are here to do,” Kane said. “We’ve been working hard on set pieces and it’s nice to see them coming together. We need to enjoy this.”
Not since the 4-2 victory over Germany in the 1966 final has England scored as many goals at the World Cup.
The ruthlessness of the display in the sweltering heat of Nizhny Novgorod showed just how far England has been transformed in the four years since an older, more experienced squad couldn’t even manage a win when it exited the World Cup in Brazil in the group stage.
In 2014, England complained about the heat in Brazil — particularly the humidity of the Amazonian jungle in the team’s opening loss to Italy.
Now England is sure of a spot in the round of 16 with a game to spare in Group G. Panama, which offered little resistance, is leaving the tournament early after being eliminated along with Tunisia.
Sterner tests await, starting with the Thursday’s game against Belgium. England and Belgium are level on points and goal difference and will play for first place in the group.
Japan 2, Senegal 2: YEKATERINBURG, Russia — Senegal twice took the lead. Japan tied it up both times. Keisuke Honda came off the bench in the second half and scored in the 78th minute, giving the Japanese a draw with Senegal. The 32-year-old Honda, a former AC Milan forward, became the first Japanese player to score at three World Cups.
Colombia 3, Poland 0: KAZAN, Russia — Radamel Falcao’s first World Cup goal led Colombia over Poland on Sunday and kept the team in the running for a spot in the knockout round. Falcao had been expected to lead the team at the last World Cup in Brazil, but he injured his knee ahead of the tournament and missed Colombia’s run to the quarterfinals.