Football: Raheem Sterling bags hat-trick as England crush Czech Republic

England made a hugely impressive start to their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign as Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of a sorry Czech Republic side at Wembley.

England produced a display full of pace and panache to send fans home happy.

Sterling opened the scoring from Jadon Sancho's cross in the 23rd minute, and Harry Kane's penalty put England in complete control near half-time.   

There was a brief flurry from the Czechs at the start of the second half, but normal service soon resumed as Sterling curled home his second of the night.   

The Manchester City forward was unstoppable and completed his first hat-trick for England seven minutes later with a deflected drive past Czech keeper Jiri Pavlenka, before an own goal capped the result.   

Sterling was substituted to huge applause as manager Gareth Southgate gave Chelsea teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi his first senior cap, while West Ham midfielder Declan Rice also came off the bench to win his first England cap, weeks after switching allegiance from the Republic of Ireland.   

Also in Group A, Bulgaria midfielder Todor Nedelev scored a dubious late penalty to help his side earn a 1-1 home draw against Montenegro.

Elsewhere, Cristiano Ronaldo endured a frustrating return to international football as Portugal were held 0-0 by Ukraine, having not played for his country since the 2018 World Cup. Also in Group B, Luxembourg beat Lithuania 2-1.     

France had little trouble downing Moldova 4-1 in Group H, with Antoine Griezmann converting Paul Pogba's chipped pass for a 24th minute opener.           

That opened the floodgates as Raphael Varane headed in a corner three minutes later and Olivier Giroud bagged a third in the 36th minute, before Kylian Mbappe completed the rout and Vladimir Ambros nabbed a consolation.             

France next welcome Iceland, who laboured in Andorra to a 2-0 win, while Turkey defeated Albania 2-0 with Burak Yilmaz and Hakan Calhanoglu goals.

Reuters