England ‘frightened’ us, Panama coach Hernan Dario Gomez admits

England’s explosive first half “frightened” Panama and left head coach Hernan Dario Gomez fearing one of the biggest defeats in World Cup history.

Harry Kane’s hat-trick, John Stones’ double and a superb Jesse Lingard effort secured a thumping 6-1 win for Gareth Southgate’s side that sealed their progress to the last 16 with a game to spare.

England, who recorded their biggest-ever World Cup win, had scored five by half-time, leaving Panama boss Gomez fearful of further misery inflicted by a team he declared “totally spectacular”.

“The difference of goals could have been more,” Gomez said.

“To concede five goals in the first half – two penalties, two set-pieces, where England were very, very effective – well, what we did was try to avoid a bigger catastrophe.

“We managed to keep the ball in the second half a little bit more and we kept playing in an orderly fashion because had we not done that it wouldn’t have been six goals but far more.

“We were feeling rather frightened at half-time because of the huge difference between us and England, and also Belgium.

“We have learned a lot at this World Cup so far. We’ve drawn a lot of conclusions but Panama are a small, young child in football, other teams don’t really decipher our style of play.

“There were three or four goalscoring opportunities where we could have scored, but we didn’t finish properly, and England came to our box seven times and scored six.”

Substitute Felipe Baloy made history by become the first Panamanian player to score at a World Cup, at the end of a second half that begun with Gomez making a beeline for the England dugout to speak to Southgate.

The Panama chief admitted he had tried to reassure Southgate after his team’s robust first-half approach.

“I congratulated him,” Gomez said with a smile. “I told him that I really like his team, England, and I said, ‘Look, we’re going to play cool and calm now’.

“I tried during half-time to tell my players to be more composed, to play football in an orderly fashion.

“I’ve had to play against two spectacular opponents, Belgium and England, but this is absolutely fantastic because that is how you learn, draw conclusions and can tell where your team is.

“I think England are totally spectacular – a beautiful team.”