Harry Kane was described by England manager Gareth Southgate as "the best goalscorer in the world" after his dramatic winner against Croatia earned his side a Nations League Finals berth.
Kane's late impact turned Sunday's Group 4 meeting at Wembley on its head, the England captain involved in substitute Jesse Lingard's equaliser before scoring the 85th-minute winner himself from close range.
England will now compete with Portugal and two other teams, who are yet to be decided, for the inaugural Nations League crown at the end of the domestic season.
Kane had not scored for England since the World Cup, where his six goals earned the Golden Boot but some flat performances in the knockout rounds saw Southgate criticised for not resting the striker.
However, a proud Southgate made it clear Kane's importance to England cannot be underestimated after the Three Lions gained a measure of revenge for their extra-time World Cup semi-final loss by relegating Croatia to League B.
"I think Harry is the best goalscorer in the world frankly so you're always loathe to take a player of his ability off," Southgate told a news conference.
"Some people question decisions in the summer but he's our main penalty taker and our leader.
"In 98 per cent of games his hold up play and everything is critical, he played a fantastic pass for Raheem [Sterling] in the first half.
"So we have huge belief in him and he is so hungry to lead the team further."
Kane proved his class in the final third but, Andrej Kramaric's deflected opener aside, England also impressed at the back, with inexperienced defenders Joe Gomez and Ben Chilwell earning Southgate's praise along with teenage winger Jadon Sancho, who came off the bench.
"I think we knew to keep the hunger and challenge - there were things for us to talk about but you need competition for places," Southgate added.
"We knew the level of our young players and we looked at Ben ahead of the summer and thought he was not quite ready but he started the season really well with Leicester.
"The younger ones have emerged so quick, Sancho so quickly an option from the bench, but we know the quality of the players. Gomez would have probably come with us in the summer [to the World Cup] had he been fit.
"We're not afraid to put in a 21 and a 22-year-old at the back today. It's easier to gamble on young forwards but those guys have been good enough with great quality and they'll only improve with these experiences."
Southgate and his squad can now look forward to competing for England's first major international silverware since their only World Cup triumph in 1966.
"I am hugely proud of all the players and the staff because we've grown together and improved every step," he added. "I think today was another big occasion, a big experience, plenty of pressure and expectation on the game but they coped well.
"In the first half we played so well and had good chances, second half we had to show another side and show character. We had five to 10 minutes after they scored with counter-attacks.
"I said to TV, we may be a new England but we scored from a long throw and a wide free-kick so maybe nothing changes!
"The connection with fans is so pleasing for me as I've not heard Wembley like that for years. We've give them some big days and nights this year and their energy helped us to get over the line in the big moments.
"Next year looks exciting to look forward to and all the players want to come with us, young players are desperate to be a part of it. The feeling round the team is powerful and we have to build on it."
|Kane a doubt for north London derby|
|Mourinho sacking changes things – Tuchel|
|Nets top Lakers in Brooklyn, extend winning streak to six games|
|LeBron on Lakers potentially acquiring Davis: That would be amazing|
|Rain helps Sri Lanka claim draw against New Zealand|
|Mourinho had to ´take the consequences´, says Klopp|
|Ausilio: Icardi has offer on table, won´t be sold to Juve|
|Chargers lead NFL Pro Bowl selections, Brees named NFC starting QB|
|Pro Bowl 2019: Chargers lead NFL with 7 selections, Drew Brees named NFC starting QB|
|Savea re-signs with All Blacks, Hurricanes|
|Flanagan facing de-registration as Sharks, Tigers cop huge fines|
|Napoli rejected £95m offer for Koulibaly amid United links – De Laurentiis|
|Kovac feels for axed United boss Mourinho|
|Rabiot, we do not need you – PSG fans respond to wantaway midfielder|
|Guardiola hails assured debut from Man City youngster Garcia|
|He´s very happy at Tottenham – Arsenal boss Emery wants Pochettino to reject Manchester United|
|Rams sign RB C.J. Anderson|
|Good luck with the Red Devils - Norway PM´s message for Solskjaer|
|Pogba was ´dancing on the grave´ of Mourinho - Neville|
|Solskjaer set to replace Mourinho after Man United gaffe|
|City signing Steffen up to Guardiola´s goalkeeper demands, says Berhalter|
|Mourinho is so strong - Guardiola backing for fallen rival|
|Mourinho? Ausilio dismisses Inter return after United sacking|
|Whyte needs to raise his game to beat Chisora again - Haye|
|Brussino leads late Tenerife rally as Venezia down Holon|
|Orleans 1 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Super sub Diaby sends holders through|
|Leicester City 1 Manchester City 1 (1-3 on penalties): Muric stands tall in poor shoot-out|
|Middlesbrough 0 Burton Albion 1: League One side reach semi-finals|
|Bologna 0 AC Milan 0: Bakayoko sent off as Inzaghi claims point against former side|
|Fortuna Dusseldorf 2 Borussia Dortmund 1: Bundesliga leaders suffer shock first loss|
|Rivera yet to make a call on sitting Panthers QB Newton|
|Pulisic would thrive in Premier League, but Berhalter expects Dortmund stay|
|Raptors coach Nurse fined by NBA for criticising referees|
|Solari ´loves´ struggling Real Madrid star Isco|
|Mourinho sacked: Pogba, Lukaku, Fred and his other Man United signings rated|
|Mourinho sacked: What does it mean for Manchester United players?|
|Ibrahimovic provides short-term pain, long-term gain for US - Berhalter|
|River Plate 2 Al Ain 2 (aet, 4-5 on penalties): Perez misses decisive spot kick|
|De Bruyne and Aguero back for City, surprise debut for Garcia|
|Uncapped Varun ´panicked a little´ after huge IPL deal|
|Replays scrapped for FA Cup fifth round|
|Pochettino readies big guns for Gunners|
|Ex-Wasps star Wade struggling with NFL transition|
|BCCI rejects ´baseless´ claims over Kohli-Paine ´banter´|
|Ibrahimovic re-signs with LA Galaxy for 2019|
|Mourinho sacked: Solari not worried for Real Madrid job|
|Mourinho sacked: 895 days and more than £700,000 in five-star luxury|
|ES Tunis 1 Guadalajara 1 (6-5 on penalties): Dhaouadi holds nerve to settle ill-tempered affair|
|Murphy lands permanent Tigers role|
|Mourinho sacked: Real Madrid´s Marcelo lauds ´great coach´ after United exit|
|Unadkat, Varun the top buys at IPL auction|
|Emery prepared to give youth a chance in north London derby|
|Tottenham extend Vertonghen contract until 2020|
|Panthers safety Reid receives seventh random drug test of 2018|
|Kovac relishing Klopp challenge in Champions League|
|Bancroft to return, teenager Lamichhane to fly the flag for Nepal in Big Bash|
|Liverpool still have plenty of work to do - Klopp|
|Messi ´never imagined´ his success after winning record fifth Golden Shoe|
|WATCH: Timberwolves´ Gibson tries to block shot with his trainer|
|Mourinho sacked: Klopp praises departed Manchester United boss|
|Mourinho sacked: Jose the best Manchester United manager since Ferguson - Gerrard|
|Mourinho sacked: Ferdinand calls for ´fresh ideas´ at Man United|
|Mourinho sacked: The mystique has gone as United spell ends in divorce|
|´He´s an interest not only for us but for many´ - Zola praises rumoured Chelsea target Wilson|
|Mourinho sacked: Pochettino focused on Spurs amid Manchester United rumours|
|Mendis eyes double-century for departing Samaraweera|
|Mourinho sacked: Zola expects Jose to be in another job ´soon´|
|Mourinho sacked: Five reasons it went wrong at Manchester United|
|Mourinho sacked: Jose´s Manchester United record in Opta stats|
|Mourinho sacked: Pogba, Ronaldo and Jose´s biggest bust-ups|