Harry Kane strikes late to send England to next summer's World Cup in Russia
Thursday 05 Oct 2017
England’s place at next summer’s World Cup in Russia was confirmed at Wembley after captain Harry Kane secured a late, late win over Slovenia.
It had looked as though the Three Lions would have to settle for a point, after a stubborn Slovenian side had kept them largely at bay during the preceding 90 minutes.
But when Kyle Walker did superbly to show a late burst of energy and pick out the in-form Spurs striker, he did enough to guide home from close range and bring Wembley to life.
England 1-0 Slovenia
2018 FIFA World Cup
Group F qualifier
Thursday 5 October 2017
Wembley Stadium connected by EE
Gareth Southgate’s team will now head into their final game of the group on Sunday knowing their mission is accomplished and preparations will start next month when England return to Wembley for a double header against Germany and Brazil.
It had been a frustrating night for England prior to that though and for all of their possession, Slovenia proved a tough nut to crack.
Early efforts from Jordan Henderson and Walker forced goalkeeper Jan Oblak some slight concern as England looked to find their range.
And Marcus Rashford almost found a way through on the stroke of half time when his low free-kick almost caught Oblak out after the Manchester United man had been cynically hauled down by Miha Mevlja during a darting run forward.
But the visitors’ attitude was best summed up just shy of the hour mark, when presented with a free-kick inside the England half. Instead of looking to create an attacking move, the ball was recycled back into their defence.
Perhaps there was a reason for that too, as on one of their rare forays forward for a corner, England created one of their best chances on the break as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s clearance found Raheem Sterling.
The Manchester City man burst forward before picking out Rashford in support, but when he lifted the ball over Oblak, Mevlja was there to clear.
England were denied again moments later when Ryan Bertrand’s cross from the left was diverted out to Sterling, whose slide-rule finish was somehow blocked on the line by captain Bostjan Cesar.
Another chance arrived, as this time Rashford’s cross and Sterling's attempt in the box fell to Kane, but his left-footer was dragged wide through a crowd of players.
With the clock drawing closer to full time and England yet to score, Slovenia beefed up their attack with added firepower from the bench in a bid to find the win needed to keep their World Cup hopes alive.
And England had their own keeper, Joe Hart, to thank too as he made a fine block-save to deny substitute Tim Matavz after he was sent clear by Josip Ilicic.
The best was saved for last though, as deep into stoppage time Walker took advantage of a sloppy kick-out from Oblak to race away one last time on the right, before delivering a perfect cross for Kane to toe-poke home and kick-start the celebrations.
England: 1 Joe Hart (West Ham United, loan from Manchester City); 2 Kyle Walker (Manchester City), 6 John Stones (Manchester City), 5 Gary Cahill (Chelsea), 3 Ryan Bertrand (Southampton); 8 Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 4 Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur); 11 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Liverpool), 7 Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), 10 Marcus Rashford (Manchester United); 9 Harry Kane (capt; Tottenham Hotspur).
Substitutes: 22 Jesse Lingard (Manchester United) for Oxlade-Chamberlain 64, 16 Michael Keane (Everton) for Sterling 85
Substitutes not used: 13 Jack Butland (Stoke City), 23 Jordan Pickford (Everton), 12 Chris Smalling (Manchester United), 14 Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), 15 Harry Maguire (Leicester City), 17 Aaron Cresswell (West Ham United), 18 Jermain Defoe (AFC Bournemouth), 19 Jake Livermore (West Bromwich Albion), 20 Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), 21 Harry Winks (Tottenham Hotspur)
Goal: Kane (90+3)
Cautions: John Stones 44
Manager: Gareth Southgate
Slovenia: 1 Jan Oblak; 23 Aljaz Struna, 17 Miha Mevlja, 5 Bostjan Cesar (c ), 13 Bojan Jokic; 18 Rajko Rotman, 6 Rene Krhin; 14 Roman Bezjak, 7 Josip Ilicic, 21 Benjamin Verbic; 11 Andraz Sporar
Substitutes: 10 Valter Birsa for Sporar 55, 19 Jan Repas for Bezjak 72, 9 Tim Matavz for Rotman 79
Substitutes not used: 12 Vid Belec, 16 Jan Koprivec, 2 Nejc Skubic, 3 Mitka Viler, 4 Matija Sirok, 8 Jasmin Kurtic, 15 Antonio Delamea-Mlinar, 20 Damjan Bohar, 22 Amedej Vetrih