Bukayo Saka scored three times for England in Monday’s 7-0 rout of North Macedonia, so we looked at the Opta numbers that highlight the significance of his achievement.

Bukayo Saka almost looked shocked as he held up three fingers to the crowd at Old Trafford on Monday. After racing on to a perfectly weighted Harry Kane through ball, the winger kept his cool to score for the third time that night.

North Macedonia may not be the most illustrious of opponents, but Saka won’t have cared even remotely. England were 7-0 winners in the end, making it four wins from as many games at the start of Euro 2024 qualifying.

The day, however, belonged to Saka.

His was a hat-trick of brilliance. Kane had put England 1-0 up from close range in the 29th minute, and Saka added to that soon after, smashing an emphatic right-footed finish into the roof of the net from a tight angle.

Saka’s second made it 4-0 early in the second half, and what a goal it was. A deft touch from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s long lofted pass just unsettled the defence enough to buy him time, and as the ball dropped back down, he unleashed an unstoppable strike into the top-left corner.

The third was the simplest of all, but clearly the most significant, capping a momentous day for Saka…

1 – It might seem surprising for a player who’s become so accustomed to scoring at club level, but this was Saka’s first career hat-trick. He clearly treasured the moment Harry Maguire handed him the ball after scoring the third, kissing it before holding it aloft in celebration.

11 – Saka scored his first England goal against Austria at the Riverside Stadium on 2 June 2021. He’s now on 11 in 28 caps, with only Cliff Bastin (12) having netted more for the Three Lions while they were an Arsenal player.

4 – His exploits on Monday ensured Saka joined an exclusive list. After Ted Drake, Ian Wright and Theo Walcott, he is just the fourth Arsenal player to score a hat-trick for England.

21 – Saka was aged 21 years and 287 days on Monday, making him the second-youngest player ever to score a hat-trick for England. Walcott was just 19 years and 178 days old when he plundered three against Croatia in September 2008.

1 – Monday’s game was played at Manchester United’s Old Trafford, and Saka’s treble made him the first Arsenal player to score there for England since Wright in 1997 against South Africa.

4 – Saka also scored at Old Trafford for Arsenal this season, taking his tally at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ to four goals in two games for the campaign. That’s only one fewer than United wingers Jadon Sancho (four) and Antony (one) scored there combined all season in the Premier League.

He may only be 21, but it’s fair to say that hat-trick had been a long time coming.

“It’s a special night, a big win and [to score] a first hat-trick is really special. I don’t remember the last time I scored three, even at junior levels,” he said afterwards. “It’s a decent scoring record but there is always room for improvement.”

Having netted 14 times domestically for Arsenal in 2022-23, there are already striking signs of that improvement taking shape.

He’ll generally face opposition better than North Macedonia in the Premier League, but you get a sense Saka won’t be waiting so long for his next hat-trick.

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