A late, late Harry Kane goal saw England squeeze past a stern Slovenia side to book their ticket to Russia 2018
(Had England drawn this match, I would’ve titled this article “England lose 0-0”)
England started the game brightly with Marcus Rashford putting in a decent shift. The Three Lions continued to press as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain saw a way through but was foiled by Bojan Jokic.
Slovenia had a few efforts of their own and one of them should’ve arguably seen them be awarded a penalty when Joe Hart brought down Josip Ilicic following a through-ball from Roman Bezjak.
The away side saw Rene Krhin go into the book a little later on as he was adjudged to have fouled Jordan Henderson.
Gareth Southgate’s side continued to push as Harry Kane saw his effort caught by Jan Oblak. (Kane wasn’t really testing Oblak however). There was another opportunity for the deadlock to be broken when Rashford saw Gary Cahill in the box and made an excellent cross, only for the Chelsea defender to fail to connect with the ball.
Srecko Katanecs side also pressed when a from Ilicic found Bezjak, but he failed to find the net.
I’m not going to write about ALL the chances I’ll just sum it up. There were a few other chances, but in a nutshell, the first half was rather dire with the Ilicic penalty shout being one of the only two flash-points with the other being John Stones being booked for a foul on Miha Mevlja.
Having said that, Kyle Walker did almost put his side ahead with a rather decent free-kick.
Was the second half any better? Lets find out!
This period saw England VERY fortunate not to go behind as Hart fumbled the ball (thankfully not into his own net) after a header from Jokic.
Rashford had the best chance of the half so far as he saw his chipped effort miraculously denied by Rajko Rotman.
England saw another effort go begging when Raheem Sterling saw his effort blocked by Bostan Cesar.
Chances were coming, but Slovenia would not let up as England continued knocking at the door.
Some parts of the second half were less than eventful as fans found other means of entertainment such as throwing paper aeroplanes and even an unidentified fan streaking. That just puts the quality of the match in context.
Back to the match itself, Kane had a glorious opportunity to put his side in the lead, but fluffed his chance to do so.
Shortly after, there seemed to be a kerfuffle which Stones was involved in. Stones was given only words from the referee, and nothing more (thankfully).
Substitute Jesse Lingard was the next recipient to have a glaring chance at goal as he failed to finish off a neat play by Kane.
Towards the end of regulation time, Hart was called into action with not one but two match-saving blocks, and got himself injured (not too seriously) in the process. (He did well to put himself in the line there)!
If you thought this was going to be a 0-0 “bore draw”, you thought wrong as a fantastic ball from Walker found Kane who poked home to gift England maximum points to qualify for Russia 2018.
Clearly, England could’ve played MUCH better. The match itself was rather dry with chances flying from left, right, and centre. The atmosphere wasn’t great either.
Now, I strongly dislike to scapegoat players, but one player I’d pick out is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. What were his qualities? What did he give for the match? This tweet below sums up his situation perfectly.
Now then, I said I was going to mention the incident involving West Hams on-loan keeper, and I’ll do so now. Seeing replays of the incident, not many keepers would get away with making that challenge, but Hart somehow did. I thought Slovenia were rather unfortunate to not be awarded a penalty.
Onto the positives, there weren’t many if I’m being totally honest. The only the positives I found was Joe Hart’s double blocks. If there were any other positives, please comment below.
So, what did you think of that rather less than entertaining match? England will have to be MUCH better next year!