Keane On Twin England Successes

Michael Keane says he will return to Everton with an additional shot of confidence after featuring in successive England victories over the past four days.

Everton centre-back Keane was part of a backline which shutout Bulgaria at the weekend. On Tuesday in Southampton, he created a goal for Raheem Sterling and recovered from a first-minute lapse to defend solidly as England resisted a Kosovo fightback to win 5-3.

Keane, whose past 13 Premier League outings for Everton have yielded nine clean sheets, has been ever-present in this European Championship qualifying campaign and reached the nine-cap mark for his country against Kosovo.

Kosovo striker Vedat Muriqi intercepted Keane’s pass to set up Valon Berisha for the visitors’ opening goal inside 60 seconds.

The Everton player promptly atoned, leaping at the far post to direct a right-wing corner across the box for Sterling to equalise.

England raced into a 5-1 half-time lead and had a second-half penalty saved following two quickfire Kosovo goals.

“I thought I reacted well [to Kosovo’s opener], it was in the back of my head but you have to put it to one side,” Keane told

“It was hard to refocus but that is what you have to do.

“Try to put it to the back of your mind and for five or 10 minutes keep everything simple and build yourself back into the game.


“Thankfully the lads were on it and we managed to get a few goals.

“We have been working on set plays a lot. The corner was stood up well, so I just attacked it.

“I knew we’d have a few players in the six-yard box, so if I didn’t quite get it on target a few would be there to put it in and luckily that is what happened.

“It makes it a little bit easier [to absorb the blow of Kosovo's goal].

“As a defender it is vital you don’t make mistakes like that. 

“I have done and have to learn from it.”

England grabbed the lead through Kane and went 3-1 in front when Kosovo right-back Mergim Vojvoda turned into his own net following an attack launched by Keane’s ball down the line for striker Kane.

Jadon Sancho scored twice in quick succession before the break but Kosovo refused to go quietly and 10 minutes into the second half had halved their deficit.

England gave up possession cheaply to allow Muriqi to break and cross for Berisha to skilfully net his second, Muriqi then converting from the spot after being fouled by Harry Maguire.

Kane had a penalty kept out by visiting goalkeeper Arijanet Muric as England sought to reestablish their supremacy.

The sides continued to trade possession and chances but England were relatively comfortable and Keane unflustered as Gareth Southgate's side saw out their fourth victory in four qualifying matches.

“It is good to get two more games for your country, you cannot ever complain about that,” said Keane.

“I would have liked to have done better today, especially in the first minute but that is one of those things.

“I took a lot of confidence from the first game [against Bulgaria] and confidence from how I reacted today.

“I have to put that aside now and keep doing what I have been doing for Everton – and I will do my best to do that on Sunday [against Bournemouth].

“It wasn’t our best performance overall tonight.

“We looked really good going forward but conceded three sloppy goals.

“I thought we dealt well with them in general. We just conceded a few chances and they punished us.

“But we won and achieved six points in the week – so we have to be happy with that.”