England on the verge of Russia
Written By: Robert Halter
England looked to cement top spot in Group F and get closer to a place in the world cup finals in Russia with a victory over Slovakia at Wembley stadium, beginning of September. But the Three Lions were caught out in the third minute, when Marcus Rashford lost possession to Stanislav Lobotka, who played a one two with Adam Nemec, before England keeper, Joe Hart, was left helpless as Lobotka, put the ball past him into the heart of the goal. Two minutes later, Rashford tried to make amends for his earlier mistake, but his strike went straight to Slovakian shot stopper, Martin Dubravka. On the quarter of the hour mark, a poor header from Slovakia’s captain, Martin Skrtel, fell to Harry Kane, but his shot took a deflection off Peter Pekarik, and went past the right post. Then from a cross by Rashford, the ball was turned past the left post from Dele Alli, after the ball was diverted out of play by Skrtel. After Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dispossessed Vladimir Weiss on the left flank, he raced through but skied his strike high and wide in the twenty first minute. In the next minute from a cross on the right by Kyle Walker, a cushioned header from Alli was caught by Dubravka. On twenty six minutes from an in swinging corner by Rashford, the ball was palmed away by Dubravka. After Alli won the ball off Nemec and Marek Hamsik, the ball was dragged wide of the right post by Rashford in the thirty third minute. But four minutes later, the Three Lions drew level, as Rashford rammed the corner in and Eric Dier turned the ball over with a flick off his right foot into the roof of the net. On forty two minutes after link up play with Alli and Kane, a shot from Ryan Bertand spun towards Dubravka, who pushed the ball away. In the following two minutes from a Bertrand assist, a low drive by Rashford, was turned behind the left post from Dubravka, at full stretch. Before the half time break, Walker made a last ditch tackle to stop the advancing Weiss. After the start of the second half, Alli combined with Rashford, whose strike ricocheted off Skrtel, before the ball was turned past the right post by Jordan Henderson. On forty nine minutes, Oxlade-Chamberlain struck a left footed effort wide to the right from an Alli pass. England threatened again in the fifty first minute, from a Bertrand assist, as weaving down the left, Rashford could not find a decisive finish to trouble Dubravka. In the next two minutes, after Oxlade-Chamberlain linked play with Alli, a low drive from the Ox, was latched upon by Dubravka. But in the fifty fifth minute, a ball over from Hamsik was well struck by Nemec, and a reaction stop from Hart, diverted the ball out of play with his strong hands. From the resulting corner by Weiss, the ball was headed across the face of goal by Skrtel. But England pressed again as the Ox found Kane on the right, whose strike was saved at full stretch by Dubravka, and as the ball fell to Alli, he fluffed his shot. But in the fifty ninth minute, the Three Lions forged ahead, as Henderson fed the ball to Rashford, whose bending strike flew past Dubravka, into the bottom left corner. Three minutes later, an over the top delivery by Dier was headed on by Rashford, and the final effort by Alli was comfortably stopped by Dubravka. After Hamsik was fouled by Phil Jones, a free kick by Skrtel, failed to be cleared by Walker, and Tomas Hubocan, hit the ball into the ground, before his strike bounced over the upright. Slovakia later made a double change of Albert Rusnak for Weiss and Michal Duris for Nemec. After Milan Skriniar got booked for a foul on Alli, a free kick by Rashford was side footed over the crossbar. The Slovaks later switched Hamsik with Ondrej Duda. Soon England made a double substitution of Raheem Sterling for Oxlade-Chamberlain and Danny Welbeck replaced Rashford, and after Kane started the move, Sterling could have got off the mark but fired his effort at Dubravka. At the end, England took off Alli for Jake Livermore as the Three Lions secured a 2-1 victory with Rashford being named as the man of the match.