Sheffield United: Dean Henderson's wait for an England cap continues as England beat Bulgaria 6-0 on an evening marred by sickening racist abuse
Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson’s wait for a senior England cap went on as Gareth Southgate’s men stood firm in the face of sickening racism to thrash Bulgaria 6-0 on a night of shame in Sofia.
Henderson, called into the senior squad for the first time after Tom Heaton was forced to pull out through injury, was an unused substitute as goals from Marcus Rashford and skipper Harry Kane, plus braces from Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling, saw England take a giant stride towards Euro 2020 qualification.
Yet this match will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Nazi salutes and racist chanting marred the game and few would have blamed Southgate's side for walking off the field at the Vasil Levski National Stadium, where play was twice halted in the first half due to racism from home fans.
A stadium announcement in the 28th minute - the first step of the UEFA protocol explained to England's players in-depth at the start of the international break - warned fans that the Group A encounter may be abandoned if they did not immediately halt racist behaviour.
Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings, making his senior debut, appeared to be subject of some of the abuse and it looked like the second step would be invoked just before half-time, only for play to resume after a brief break.
A group of Bulgarian fans left the ground and captain Ivelin Popov spoke to some other supporters during a half-time break few would have blamed England for refusing to return from.
The PA news agency understands that various officials met at half-time and decided that the teams would walk off if racism reared its head again in the second period.
Sterling and Kane struck as the match was completed, but all the post-match talk will be about Bulgaria and the need for a fierce, firm reaction from UEFA.
After the game, the FA urged UEFA to investigate the racist chanting as "a matter of urgency".
"We can confirm that England players were subjected to abhorrent racist chanting while playing in the qualifier against Bulgaria," an FA statement read.
"This is unacceptable at any level of the game and our immediate focus is supporting the players and staff involved.
"As we are sadly aware, this is not the first time our players have been subjected to this level of abuse and there is no place for this kind of behaviour in society, let alone in football. We will be asking UEFA to investigate as a matter of urgency."