BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Pelted with plastic cups after goals, England weathered a hostile atmosphere to beat Hungary 4-0 in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday in its first game since losing the European Championship final.
Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane and Harry Maguire scored in a 14-minute flurry and Declan Rice added a fourth second-half goal as England secured a fourth straight victory in Group I to extend its lead to five points on the road to qualifying for Qatar.
Poland is second after beating Albania 4-1 while Andorra earned its first win by beating fellow minnow San Marino 2-0 at home.
Fifty-three days after that heartbreaking penalty-shootout loss to Italy at Wembley Stadium, England started slowly at Puskas Arena after being loudly jeered inside by a 60,000-strong crowd of mostly Hungarian fans for taking a knee before kickoff.
Sterling put England ahead in the 55th minute by sidefooting home Mason Mount’s cross and as he celebrated near the corner flag to the right of the goal — revealing an under-shirt with an apparent tribute to a friend — cups came raining down on the Manchester City winger and his teammates who came to congratulate him.
Declan Rice even pretended to take a sip from one of them.
Kane headed in a cross form Sterling in the 63rd before Maguire nodded home a corner from Luke Shaw, the ball squirming out of Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi’s grasp.
Cups and then a flare landed on the field of play after Maguire’s goal.
Gulacsi then let a long-range shot from Rice go under his body and into the net in the 87th, completing the win.
Hungary was playing in front of its supporters around two months after UEFA ordered the team to play three games behind closed doors — one of which was suspended — as a punishment in response to what was termed “discriminatory” behavior by the its supporters at all three of its Euro 2020 group games.
Those games had to be in UEFA competition, though. World Cup qualifiers are organized by FIFA.