Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rashford Redeemed as England Stay on Course

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rashford Redeemed as England Stay on Course

Article excerpt

ENGLAND 2 SLOVAKIA 1 MARCUS Rashford went from sinner to match-winner as England took control of the their World Cup destiny with a tense win over Slovakia at Wembley.

Rashford's ill-conceived run from defence gifted the visitors the chance they needed to take a shock thirdminute lead through Stanislav Lobotka, but as England were flirting with calamity the 19-year-old embraced the opportunity to make amends.

He delivered the corner for Eric Dier's near-post equaliser before half-time and won it for the Three Lions with a dipping 20-yard strike with the hour mark approaching, interventions which handed England a five-point lead in Group F with two games remaining.

Rashford was handed a first Wembley start for England, replacing Raheem Sterling in the crunch World Cup qualifier.

England were being cheered on by their lowest home crowd of the campaign, though 70,000 would still constitute a rampant success in most parts of the world.

Those in attendance did not have to wait long for some drama but for most it was the wrong kind, England getting off to a desperate start by conceding after just three minutes.

Rashford was the guilty party, running the ball out from the back and being dispossessed by Lubotka having already ridden one tackle.

The Celta Vigo midfielder offloaded to Adam Nemec, who played a deft chip over the England defence, allowing Lubotka to complete the one-two and slot calmly past Joe Hart.

The away contingent celebrated wildly as Gareth Southgate gulped the air in the dugout and Rashford admonished himself; England, in conceding their first home goal in Group F, were badly off course.

Rashford tried to make amends with a surge towards the Slovakia box, but his low shot was comfortably gathered by Martin Dubravka. More worryingly, Harry Kane's first touch let him down on a couple of occasions as the hosts tried to muster a swift response.

There was plenty of time for the game to turn but England can be a fragile unit and it was not long before memories of Iceland, and a dismal Euro 2016 exit, began to surface.

It was there in Dier's uncharacteristic slackness in possession, there in Dele Alli's lack of precision as he tried in vain to turn his man and there time and again as passes fell short of their intended targets. …

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