The City favourite provided an excellent assist for Ross Barkely’s first goal of the evening before finishing from close range in first half added time as England went in 4-0 up at the break against Bulgaria.
But the football was almost secondary as the game was halted twice in the opening period after repeated racist chanting from a section of the home support brought UEFA’s new three-step protocol into play – a third break in play would have meant the being the game being abandoned.
England had gone ahead after just seven minutes through Marcus Rashford before Barkley scored twice in quick succession to put the result beyond doubt with only 32 minutes played.
The third goal was created by Sterling’s excellent run in behind the Bulgarian defence before sliding a ball to the far post where Barkley tapped home.
Sterling’s first goal was created by Harry Kane and a carbon copy of the third with the City No.7 arriving on cue at the far post to score his twelfth goal this season for club and country.
And his thirteenth came courtesy of another Kane assist on 69 minutes, with the England captain finding Sterling’s incisive run and the City winger finished with aplomb just moments before being replaced by former Academy graduate Jadon Sancho.
Kane deservedly made it 6-0 on 85 minutes to complete the hosts’ humiliation - though the headlines tomorrow are likely to be about anything but the result.
England will have to wait until next month to confirm qualification after Aro Muric’s clean sheet helped Kosovo to a 2-0 win over Montenegro
Zinchenko played the full 90 minutes for the Group B leaders who were 2-0 up inside 27 minutes before Cristiano Ronaldo reduced the deficit from the penalty spot with his 700t career goal, but it wasn't enough - despite the hosts being reduced to 10 men on 72 minutes - and Portugal’s hopes of qualification now hang in the balance.