Rashord scores for England

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England v Slovakia

4 Sep 2017 - 7:45 PM

Marcus Rashford ensured there was no blue Monday at Wembley as he helped England take one step closer to next summer’s World Cup.

The Manchester United man showed both his character and ability to inspire the Three Lions to victory over Slovakia on what could’ve been a tricky evening.

After all, it was Rashford who was robbed of possession just outside his own area to aid Slovakia’s early opener from Stanislav Lobotka.

But Rashford, recalled by Gareth Southgate along with fellow scorer Eric Dier, didn’t let that affect him and produced a match-winning display by assisting the equaliser and then scoring a memorable winner to earn a deserved standing ovation when he came off in the 83rd minute.

The win means Gareth Southgate’s men remain firmly in control of their qualifying group with just two games against Slovenia and Lithuania to come in October.

It didn’t begin quite as planned though, as Slovakia made an electric start to the game and caught England cold within three minutes. When Vladimir Weiss’s cross from the right was half-cleared, Rashford’s attempted dribble clear was foiled by Lobotka who nicked the ball off him.

The Celta Viga forward sharply turned to exchange passes with Adam Nemec, who chipped a return ball into the box for Lobotka and he made no mistake by slotting past Joe Hart to give his side a dream start.

England had to rally themselves into contention and Rashford led by example, proving a driving force from then on, with his whipped and pacy corners causing chaos for Slovakia.

And as the Three Lions continued their search for a way back, it was Rashford again who came closest as he struck a left-footer wide of the post after Dele Alli had won possession and picked him out.

After their slow start, Southgate’s side began to build momentum and it was from another of those Rashford flag-kicks that England drew level in the 37th minute, as Dier’s near-post run was picked out and the Tottenham Hotspur man finished with aplomb.

England were buoyed by their breakthrough and it took an instinctive save from Martin Dubravka to keep out Ryan Bertrand’s drive before Rashford tested him again with a rasping low shot from the edge of the area.

But it took a fine tackle from Kyle Walker to prevent Slovakia taking the lead in first-half stoppage time, when Weiss expertly rolled Phil Jones to break clear on goal only for the Manchester City man to cover his team-mate’s blushes.

 England started the second half with much more vigour, as both Rashford and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain forced Dubravka into saves with Alli proving the architect at the heart of the team.

Hart had to be alert at the other end though, as Nemec stung his hands with a fierce far-post volley after Robbie Mak had picked him out with a floated pass across the area.

 

But Rashford was always likely to have his say again and he put England ahead just shy of the hour mark, when he whipped home a fine finish from 20 yards after Jordan Henderson had picked him out.

That proved enough, with Slovakia struggling to find the rhythm they’d shown in the earlier stages and with key players Weiss, Nemec and Marek Hamsik all substituted, Jan Kozak’s men couldn’t find a way past England to rescue a point.

For the Three Lions though, they’ll finish international week with added optimism and confidence as they look to seal top spot in Group F next month.

 

England: 1 Joe Hart (West Ham United, loan from Manchester City); 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 5 Gary Cahill (Chelsea), 6 Phil Jones (Manchester United), 3 Ryan Bertrand (Southampton); 4 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) (c), 8 Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur); 11 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), 10 Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), 7 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United); 9 Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

Substitutes: 22 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City) for Oxlade-Chamberlain 83, 20 Danny Welbeck (Arsenal) for Rashford 83, 18 Jake Livermore (West Bromwich Albion) for Alli 90

Substitutes not used: 12 Chris Smalling (Manchester United), 13 Jack Butland (Stoke City), 14 Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United), 15 Michael Keane (Everton), 16 John Stones (Manchester City), 17 Nathaniel Chalobah (Watford), 19 Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), 21 Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), 23 Tom Heaton (Burnley)

Manager: Gareth Southgate

Goals: Eric Dier 37, Marcus Rashford 59

Cautions: Eric Dier 73

 

Slovakia: 23 Martin Dubravka; 2 Peter Pekarik, 3 Martin Skrtel (c), 4 Jan Durica, 15 Tomas Hubocan; 14 Milan Skriniar, 22 Stanislav Robotka; 7 Vladimir Weiss, 17 Marek Hamsik, 20 Robert Mak; 11 Adam Nemec

Substitutes: 10 Albert Rusnak for Weiss 68, 21 Michal Duris for Nemec 69, 8 Ondrej Duda for Hamsik 79

Substitutes not used: 1 Jan Novotna, 5 Norbert Gyomber, 6 Jan Gregus, 9 Jaroslav Mihalik, 12 Martin Polacek, 13 Patrik Hrosovsky, 16 Robert Mazan, 18 Erik Sabo, 19 Juraj Kucka

Coach: Jan Kozak

Goals: Stanislav Lobotka 3

Cautions: Skriniar 70

Referee: Clement Turpin

 

Attendance: 67,823

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