VIDEO: Second-half show slays Slovenia
Friday, 25 May, 2012
Goals from Chalobah, Thorpe, Kane and Keane seal Deepdale victory for England.
By Nicholas Veevers at Deepdale
A classy second half performance from England U19s gave them the perfect start to their Elite Qualifying Round in Preston on Friday night.
Noel Blake’s side found a Slovenian side in stubborn mood in a quiet first half, but England sprung into life after the break and five goals from Nathaniel Chalobah, Tom Thorpe, Todd Kane and a brace for Will Keane put them on top of the group, following Montenegro’s earlier 3-0 victory over Switzerland in Rochdale.
The early signs in the game didn’t point to a scoring spree though, despite England controlling possession from the first whistle, as Slovenia were more than happy to sit back in a deep and defensive formation and try to catch England on the break.
In fact, it was the visitors who came the closest to breaking the deadlock in the early stages when a pass from midfield wrong-footed Michael Keane and allowed dangerman Rok Baskera to break clear on the right. His low shot was well saved by Preston-born captain Sam Johnstone in goal though and the chance was gone.
England’s most likely first-half threat came through Harry Kane, with his movement and probing runs proving problematic for the Slovenians who found two of their players cautioned for cynical fouls on the Spurs forward.
Kane’s neat link-up with Saido Berahino on the left after 16 minutes then led to a centre almost finding Will Keane in the box, but Slovenia captain Miha Blazic was there first to clear up the danger.
The hard-working Berahino then provided a chipped cross from the right, but Kane’s attempted bicycle-kick was well blocked in the area as England had to settle for a blank at half-time.
Whatever Blake said to his players during the break clearly had the desired effect though, as England won a corner within seconds of the restart and from John Lundstram’s flag-kick, Thorpe won a header at the far post only to see a green Slovenian shirt on the line to clear.
Two minutes later, England took the lead as the ball broke to Chalobah 25 yards from goal. He then stepped inside to curl a delightful shot past Marek Barukcic and into the top corner to put his side in front.
That goal brought Slovenia out of their shell and gave England more space in which to play their football and the opener was duly followed up five minutes later by another fine goal.
This time, defender Thorpe strode out from the back before relinquishing the ball to Ross Barkley. The Manchester United man continued his run and was duly picked out by Kane’s slide-rule pass inside. Thorpe entered the area and rounded Barukcic, before scrambling the ball home despite the best efforts of Blazic on the line.
With Slovenia’s more positive approach after falling behind, they actually caused more trouble for England at this stage and Johnstone had to keep his concentrations levels high, particularly when Luka Kranjc’s 30 yarder took a wicked deflection and looked to be floating home, only for the Manchester United stopper to get back and tip over the bar.
It was left to Johnstone’s Old Trafford team-mate to add to the scoring following that save, as a flowing move ended with the ball played by Kane to Will Keane in the left channel where he raced away from his marker before placing a fine left-foot shot past Barukcic and into the bottom corner.
England weren’t finished there, as Chalobah threaded an inch perfect cross-field pass for his Chelsea team-mate and substitute Todd Kane to outpace the defence and drill a precise and powerful shot past Barukcic and into the bottom corner.
Keane completed the job in stoppage time, as he collected a pass from substitute Benik Afobe and danced between two defenders before pulling the trigger from close range to finish the scoring and leave the home crowd happy as the early summer sunshine set across Lancashire.