England 2-1 Slovakia: Marcus Rashford Stars as Three Lions Come From Behind to Win
England kept their unbeaten record in tact coming from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 at Wembley on Monday evening.
Gareth Southgate made two changes from the side that laboured to a win over Malta three days earlier with Marcus Rashford replacing Raheem Sterling and Eric Dier returning after suspension in place of Jake Livermore.
The result leaves the Three Lions in need of just a point in their two remaining games to secure a place at next summer's World Cup in Russia and now leaves them as favourites to qualify in top spot after victory over the second placed side.
Slovakia came into the game two points behind the home side and surprised England with their intensity and attacking nature in the opening minutes, as they flew out the traps. Within three minutes the away side were deservedly ahead when Stanislav Lobotka dispossessed Rashford, played a one-two with Adam Nemec before calmly slotting the ball past Joe Hart, to stun Wembley.
Rashford tried to make amends immediately as he forced goalkeeper Martin Dubravka into action, but his effort was comfortably gathered. Slovakia continued to dominate the ball as England tried to hit them on the break.
Harry Kane was next to chance his arm as he seized on Martin Skrtel's poor defensive header but saw his shot deflected wide, with the resulting corner comfortably dealt with by the Slovakians.
Southgate's men continued to probe and grew into the game with Rashford looking the most likely threat as he screwed another effort wide following good work from Dele Alli. In the 38th minute the Three Lions were level when Rashford's corner was flicked home superbly by Dier at the near post.
The ascendency was now with England going into the break as Dubravka was called into action twice in quick succession when Ryan Bertrand's effort stung his palms, and then Rashford was thwarted at full stretch by the increasingly busy 29-year-old.
The second half began with Alli and Rashford combined neatly again, with the ball finding it's way to Jordan Henderson but he dragged his left footed effort wide of the far post. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was next to force Dubravka into action when his low angled drive was dealt with by the stopper.
Nemec forced Hart into a smart save after a flowing move, as Marek Hamsik's deep cross found the striker unmarked at the back post, with the resulting corner headed ver by Skrtel, as Slovakia looked to get back in control of the game. England continued to look the most likely to score the third goal and did so in the 58th minute.
Alli won the ball back in Slovakia's half found Henderson who fed Rashford and the Manchester United man made no mistake firing his effort into the bottom corner past the helpless Dubravka, to score his first competitive international goal.
The intense nature of the game continued as Tomas Hubocan drilled over the bar as England failed to clear their lines from a corner. The away side desperately searched for a way back into the game but England held firm for the three points as they extended the gap at the top of the group to five.