Three Lions secure win with Slovenia
Written By: Robert Halter
England faced their closest rivals at the top of their European qualifying Group E as they were matched against Slovenia at the national stadium mid November. The Three Lions had an early scare in the fifth minute when from Birsa’s pass to the far post, Kirm’s header was grasped upon by Hart. It was not until the eighteenth minute that England threatened as Clyne put the ball out to Rooney in space, who in turn found Sterling, but his low strike went wide of the far post. Midway through the first half, England pressed again as Wilshere’s ball was brought down on the chest by Welbeck but Rooney fired a right footed effort over the top of the crossbar. But Slovenia responded in the twenty eighth minute, when Novakovic made a run to the near post but directed his header off target. On the half hour mark, England threatened again when Sterling broke clear of Cesar and as the ball was deflected across, Welbeck’s header went wide of the mark. But two minutes later, a lack of concentration by Kurtic almost handed a goal on a plate for England but from his careless back pass, the alert Slovenian keeper, Handanovic, averted the danger. But in the thirty eighth minute, England carved an opening when Rooney laid the ball off to Welbeck, whose right footed shot was drilled wayward and wide but at half time both teams went into the break all square. Four minutes into the re-start, England created a good opportunity, after Rooney won a corner which was put over by Lallana and an unchallenged Rooney sent a header fractions past the far post. There was a brief interruption as Birsa was taken off on a stretcher but he was soon back in the fold after getting treatment with an ice pack. The Three Lions pushed forward again, when Hadanovic held onto a header by Jagielka as Rooney clipped the ball across. But against the run of plan, Slovenia took a shock lead on fifty eight minutes, after Henderson inadvertently headed the ball into his own net, from a dead ball situation which was whipped into the England area by Novakovic. But the Three Lions responded and won a penalty a minute later, after Cesar tripped Rooney in the box and from the spot kick Rooney was fortunate to get an equaliser as Handanovic got a hand on the ball but was unable to stop the ball creeping in. The game turned around on sixty six minutes, as England went ahead after Lallana’s shot from a tight angle was pushed away by Handanovic but a poor header out by Brecko was latched upon by Welbeck, who forced the ball into the goal to give the Three Lions a 2-1 advantage. England got the all important breathing space in the seventy second minute for Welbeck’s second goal of the night, when from a Gibbs pass, Welbeck exchanged the ball with Sterling, before slotting home a right footed strike into the far corner to secure an all important maximum three points for England. After Slovenia replaced Rotman for Kurtic, they then took off Kirm for Liubijankic near the end but their disappointment continued when Rotman’s effort sailed over the upright in the seventy ninth minute. England then took off Lallana as Milner made a brief appearance before Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced Sterling. In the final few minutes, a cross by Oxlade-Chamberlain was too strong for Rooney at the far post and then from a Henderson ball into the box, Oxlade-Chamberlain was unable to get his shot away to trouble Handanovic. In added time, England created first as Hadanovic held onto a pull back by Milner and then up field for Slovenia, Mertelj hammered a thunderous shot over the crossbar but it was England with the vital win to set them on course for the finals at Euro 2016.