Joe Hart in fine form as England earn a point in Slovenia

Tuesday 11 Oct 2016
Joe Hart produced several top-class saves to keep Slovenia at bay

Joe Hart was in inspired form as England drew 0-0 with Slovenia at Stožice Stadium to stay top of Group F in their World Cup qualifying campaign.

Heading to Slovenia the Three Lions had won their previous 14 World Cup qualifiers, with Gareth Southgate getting off to a winning start as interim boss against Malta on Saturday.

But despite going close themselves, Hart produced a great save in the first half and followed it up with three after the break to earn England a point on their travels.

England have now kept clean sheets in seven of their past eight qualifying matches and top Group F on seven points after three games, with Slovenia and Lithuania two points back. 

Slovenia 0-0 England

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia European Qualifiers (Group F) 

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Stožice Stadium

Southgate made two changes to the starting XI that began the 2-0 victory against Malta, with Eric Dier coming in for Wayne Rooney and Danny Rose starting at left-back in place of Ryan Bertrand.

But it was a player who scored on Saturday, Daniel Sturridge, who was looking dangerous in the early exchanges. He had already curled a shot wide when Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak had to be out quickly to concede a corner as Dele Alli had played a neat through ball to the striker.

The hosts settled quickly though and after Valter Birsa had fired high and wide a few minutes later they had the first real chance of the game.

An under-hit back pass from Dier was pounced upon by Roman Bezjak, however Hart was out quickly to smother the ball at the striker’s feet. But the danger was not over and as England failed to clear the ball fell to Jasmin Kurtic who curled an effort against the post, with Bezjak unable to stab the ball towards goal.

After this excitement the game settled down somewhat with both teams enjoying possession without testing the opposition’s goalkeeper, with Theo Walcott the next to go close as he fizzed a shot over the bar from just outside the penalty area on 23 minutes.

England kept pressing Slovenia and ten minutes later a well-worked move saw Gary Cahill’s low drive deflected for a corner, although Oblak claimed the resulting kick.

Five minutes before half-time Cahill – winning his 50th cap for England – looked like he was going to go close again as he rose well to meet a free-kick whipped in by Jordan Henderson, only for his header to be blocked by a Slovenian defender and goalkeeper Oblak to pick up the loose ball.

England enjoyed more possession but were unable to fashion another chance as teams went in at half-time locked at 0-0.

Slovenia came flying out of the blocks in the second half and Josip Ilicic went on a great run and played a neat one-two with Birsa to force an early corner. And from that corner Hart had to be alert to save low at his near post as Slovenia captain Bostjan Cesar managed to get an effort on target only to see it turned away for a corner.

But the danger didn’t stop there as the following corner was met by Kurtic and Hart produced a wonderful save to claw the ball away from his top-right corner via the crossbar, before England scrambled the ball clear.

England managed to stem the flow and went on the attack themselves, but after Henderson had won the ball in midfield Alli’s through ball was cut out with Sturridge looking to get in behind.

Alli then went for goal himself after the ball fell at his feet following a deep Henderson corner, but the midfielder’s low 56th-minute effort bounced safely into the hands of Oblak.

The game was becoming an end-to-end affair and just moments later Slovenia were on the attack with Ilicic firing wide from 25 yards.

Just after the hour mark Andros Townsend replaced Walcott and he immediately forced Oblak into a low save with a curling effort. 

But Hart had to come to England’s rescue again on 70 minutes as a blind back pass from Henderson saw Ilicic nip in and bear down on goal, only for the goalkeeper to get down low at his feet and force a corner.

At the other end Townsend’s cross almost found Alli only for the defender to get back just in time, with Rooney then replacing the latter from the bench. 

And England kept pressing with Rose the next to go close. The left-back was found superbly on the left wing by a raking Cahill pass and cut inside onto his right foot only to fire.

Sturridge then found himself in behind the Slovenia defence after Jesse Lingard’s clever pass but his effort was comfortably saved by Oblak. 

In the 79th minute Rooney pounced on a poor clearance from substitute Miha Mevlja but his low effort curled just wide of the post.

Rooney then turned provider as he laid the ball off to Lingard, who stung the hands of Oblak from 25 yards.

But England couldn’t find a winner as the game ended in a stalemate to keep the Three Lions at Group F’s summit.

England (4-3-3): 1 Joe Hart; 2 Kyle Walker, 5 Gary Cahill, 6 John Stones, 3 Danny Rose; 4 Jordan Henderson (C), 8 Eric Dier, 10 Dele Alli; 7 Theo Walcott, 9 Daniel Sturridge, 11 Jesse Lingard.

Substitutes: 21 Andros Townsend for Walcott 62, 18 Wayne Rooney for Alli 73, 20 Marcus Rashford for Sturridge 81.

Substitutes not used: 12 Chris Smalling, 13 Fraser Forster, 14 Kieran Gibbs, 16 Michael Keane, 17 Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 19 Jamie Vardy, 22 Jordan Pickford.

Booking: Dier, Sturridge, Cahill, Lingard

Interim manager: Gareth Southgate

Slovenia: 1 Jan Oblak, 23 Aljaz Struna, 4 Miral Samardzic, 5 Bostjan Cesar, 13 Bojan Jokic, 6 Rene Krhin, 8 Jasmin Kurtic, 21 Benjamin Verbic, 10 Valter Birsa, 7 Josip Ilicic, 14 Roman Bezjak

Substitutes: 18 Rok Kronaveter for Birsa 58, 17 Miha Mevlja for Cesar 68, 22 Nik Omladic for Krhin 83.

Substitutes not used: 2 Nejc Skubic, 9 Matic Crnic, 19 Miha Zajc, 3 Boban Jovic, 11 Milivoje Novakovic, 15 Dejan Trajkovski, 16 Jan Koprivec, 12 Vid Belec, 20 Aleks Pihler

Booking: Birsa, Struna

Manager: Srečko Katanec

Referee: Deniz Aytekin (GER)

By FA Staff