SOFIA, Oct 14 (Reuters) - England bounced back from their first tournament qualifying defeat for 10 years with a 6-0 thrashing of toothless Bulgaria on Monday in a Euro 2020 Group A clash marred by racist incidents in the first half that stopped the game.
The match at the Vasil Levski stadium was temporarily halted by the referee in the first half under a three-step UEFA protocol to tackle racist abuse from the crowd.
Racist chanting was heard from the stands and reported by England players to manager Gareth Southgate, with the referee informed and a public announcement made on two occasions.
On the pitch, England midfielder Ross Barkley netted twice after Marcus Rashford had opened the scoring in the seventh minute as Southgate’s side highlighted the gap in quality with the hosts before Raheem Sterling struck just before halftime.
England’s comfortable victory was rounded off by Sterling’s second goal midway through the second half and a cool finish from captain Harry Kane five minutes from the end to inflict Bulgaria’s heaviest ever home defeat.
England, who moved closer to a place at Euro 2020, are top with 15 points from six games, three ahead of the Czech Republic and four in front of Kosovo who beat Montenegro 2-0. (Reporting by Angel Krasimirov)