England 2-1 Slovakia: Spurs Eric Dier scores in win as former Arsenal man Oxlade-Chamberlain plays
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
England moved closer to automatic qualification for next summer’s World Cup in Russia at Wembley on Monday evening after they beat Slovakia 2-1 in a team including former Arsenal man Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Dreadful defending by England as a flat-footed Marcus Rashford failed to track back resulted in Slovakia scoring after three minutes through a Stanislav Lobotka strike.
Tottenham’s Eric Dier levelled eight minutes before half time with Manchester United’s impressive Marcus Rashford – who burst onto the scene with two goals on his debut against Arsenal at Old Trafford two seasons ago – firing the winner with a low strike in the second half as England moved closer to qualifying.
But it was Slovakia’s talented 22-year-old creative midfielder Lobotka who shocked England early on.
Lobotka - who plies his trade in La Liga with Celta Vigo and hailed by many as the Slovakian player of the tournament during the U21 European Championships held in Poland this June – put ahead the visitors ahead with barely 180 seconds gone.
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Despite finishing second in England’s group, after a 2-1 defeat by the youngsters in Lublin the young Slovaks impressed many this summer – even if the scoreline was ultimately to be repeated this evening.
The goal may have come as a surprise but Group F is far closer than many think – for if Slovakia were to win they would go top with 18 points, one more than England.
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However, England tried to rally in front of another sizeable crowd at Wembley with Spurs man Harry Kane firing wide on 15 minutes.
Former Arsenal man Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who signed for Liverpool on transfer deadline day for £35m showed form of sorts as he cut in to fire at Slovak keeper Martin Dubravka’s goal.
Unfortunately for loyal Three Lions fans the form showed was more Arsenal than anything as he fired his attempted right-footed curler high and wide as he ducked in from the right flank.
But England drew level through Tottenham’s Erik Dier on 37 minutes as the former Sporting Lisbon youngster scored with a deft right-footed flick from a low Rashford corner to make it 1-1.
England could have scored a second moments before halt time as left-back Ryan Bertrand struck a powerful shot from outside the area after working space. But keeper Dubravka was equal to the task.
Rashford then nearly grabbed a goal as his impudent low strike from distance flew narrowly past the Sparta Prague net minder as Southgate’s men began to impose themselves – with the feeling that French referee Clement Turpin blew at the wrong time for the home side.
The Manchester United youngster – who burst to prominence with two goals on his debut against Arsenal at Old Trafford – went on a mazy dribble six minutes after the interval before firing a shot straight at Dubravaka. Oxlade-Chamberlain then did something similar moments later by shooting into the 28-year-old Zilnia-born shot-stopper’s midrift, but the score remained 1-1.
Slovakia could have gone ahead seconds later after superb chesting down from Adam Nemec before he fired a powerful shot at Joe Hart. When it’s executed like that it’s a skill as satisfying as any.
However it was United starlet Rashford, the young man with the big future who eventually put England 2-1 ahead, after firing a delightful low strike across Dubravka’s right hand to put England within a single victory of a trip to Russia next summer.
As the clock ticked down the attendance was announced as an impressive 67,823 as England fans again showed the football world there are no finer supporters.
With the win pushing Southgate’s emerging team five points clear of Monday’s visitors with only two games left to play Three Lions fans had better starting planning for next summer’s jamboree in Russia.
Whether they will challenge for the trophy is another matter entirely – despite tonight’s victory.
Hart, Walker, Bertrand, Henderson, Cahill, Jones, Rashford (Welbeck), Dier (booked), Kane, Alli (Livermore), Oxlade-Chamberlain (Rashford)
Dubravka, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Weiss (Rusnak), Nemec (Duris), Skriniar (booked), Hubocan, Hamsik (Duda), Mak, Lobotka
Referee: Clement Turpin