England had Marcus Rashford to thank this evening, as the Man United starlet scored one and assisted one as the Three Lions came from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 at Wembley to all but secure qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The game started horribly for Gareth Southgate’s side, as Slovakian midfielder Stanislav Lobotka calmly slotted the ball past on-loan West Ham ‘keeper Joe Hart after Marcus Rashford was dispossessed deep into his own half to give the away side, and leave England with it all to do.
England found their equaliser in the 37th, after a corner from Rashford was converted via the shins of Spurs midfielder Eric Dier into the top corner to draw the home side level.
Rashford then made up for his earlier mistake, and then some, by putting the Three Lions ahead 14 minutes after half time, after the 19-year-old fired a seemingly unstoppable effort past Slovakian shot-stopper Martin Dubravka to put the home side in front with just half an hour left to play.
England were lucky not to half Man City defender Kyle Walker sent off in the first half, after the right-back cleaned out Vladimir Weiss as the former Chelsea man was through on goal, with the referee incorrectly judging that Walker won the ball.
Clear-cut chances were fairly limited throughout the game, with England next best chance falling to Dele Alli, who was unfortunate to see the ball ricochet off his thigh and off for a goal kick following Harry Kane’s cross-come-shot that was parried out by Dubravka.
For England, this win will come as a big relief, as it means that Gareth Southgate’s side need just two points from their remaining two fixtures in order to secure qualification for next summer’s World Cup.
For Slovakia, this defeat will most likely be seen a disappointing one seeing as they were ahead for a large part of the game, with the away side now set to turn their attentions to their crucial match against Scotland on October 5th.
England player ratings: Hart 5, Walker 6, Jones 6, Cahill 6, Bertrand 6, Dier 7, Henderson 6, Rashford 8, Alli 6, Oxlade-Chamberlain 6, Kane 6
Substitutes: Livermore N/A, Sterling N/A, Welbeck N/A
Slovakia player ratings: Dubravka 6, Pekarik 6, Skrtel 6, Durica 6, Hubocan 6, Skriniar 6, Lobokta 7, Hamsik 6, Weiss 6, Mak 6, Nemec 6
Substitutes: Rusnak 6, Duda N/A, Duris 6