England Recover to beat Slovakia

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar September 5, 2018 12:36

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England Recover to beat Slovakia

By Satish Sekar at Wembley Stadium © Satish Sekar (September 4th 2017)

Post-Mortem

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Fresh from the international retirement of England’s record goal-scorer, Wayne Rooney, Gareth Southgate his England team consolidate the 4-0 victory in Malta with a 2-1 win. They did it the hard way after Man of the Match, Marcus Rashford, recovered from his error that led to Slovakia scoring after 2 minutes to provide the assist – a corner – for Eric Dier’s equaliser and score the winner from outside the area.

It wasn’t a thrilling performance. Dier admitted that he was surprised by how hard and quick Slovakia came out of the blocks, but conceded England hadn’t played well either. A measure of that is the post-match attention given to Dele Alli’s middle finger gesture, which could see him banned by FIFA if they conclude that it was directed at French referee, Clément Turpin, or possibly even Slovakia’s captain Martin Skrtl. Alli claims that it was a joke with his friend and former Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Kyle Walker.

Difficult

Rashford’s error was pounced on by Slovakia’s best player, Napoli’s Marek Hamšík. His sublime turn and through ball was latched onto by Stanislav Lobotka, who beat Joe Hart to give Slovakia a shock lead. If the visitors had planned to play on the counter-attack, the early strike reinforced that tactic. Rashford had a couple of opportunities – one wasted while ignoring the better placed Kane before winning a corner after 36 minutes which he took. Dier’s neat flick at the near post cancelled out Lobotka’s effort.

In the first minute of the second half Jordan Henderson’s shot passed just wide of Martin Dúbravka’s goal – it should have been a corner as it deflected wide off Milan Skrinlar. Almost ten minutes into the half, Slovakia displayed rare attacking intent again. Hamšík’s cross was controlled well by Adam Nemec, but his shot was instinctively saved by Joe Hart. It was followed by an awful effort by Alli, but shortly after that Henderson profited from a sloppy pass conceding possession to set up Rashford on the left to fire in from 23 yards to beat Dúbravka to his right.

Skriniar was deservedly booked for a foul on Alli, but Rashford wasted the set-piece. Alli’s gesture followed in 76 minutes. Rashford was replaced by Danny Welbeck – shortly afterwards he was named Man of the Match.

Gareth Southgate 1

“I think in the second half, we controlled the game really well”, Southgate said “… They showed real maturity. I mean we didn’t start the game well. We were too stretched. We didn’t keep possession well, but Slovakia pressed us well. We weren’t able to cope with that, so we’ve got to improve there.”

But England remain top of the group, all but certain of qualification with two matches remaining. Meanwhile Scotland made up ground on Slovakia.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar September 5, 2018 12:36