Gareth Southgate: England's win against Slovakia was an important step

by Leon Thompson September 5, 2017, 18:48
Gareth Southgate: England's win against Slovakia was an important step

The Three Lions head into the Wembley fixture knowing that victory would all but secure their place in the 2018 World Cup.

There were signs of life as Eric Dier scored from a smart corner routine and Marcus Rashford netted the victor with a fine strike, but overall a distinct lack of cutting edge was still evident from England's rather unimaginative play.

England manager Gareth Southgate has hailed Marcus Rashford's ability, but has insisted that the striker has improvements to make.

"To come from behind against a side with very good footballers, particularly in midfield, we had to show character", said Southgate.

"Kyle and Dele were mucking about and Dele's made a gesture towards Kyle".

Southgate reacted to the boos which accompanied the laboured win over group whipping boys Malta with two changes as Rashford was handed just his second competitive start alongside Dier.

The fiery Tottenham Hotspur player was caught on camera raising a middle finger in the direction of French referee Clement Turpin having not been awarded a foul after a heavy challenge by Slovakia hard man Martin Skrtel.

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In the last three meets, England won two games and one match ended in a draw. "There is a lot of talent there and these players are being given opportunities to get the experience they need". Rashford was disposed deep into his own half by Lobotka, who exchanged passes with Nemec and tucked beyond the helpless Joe Hart to stun the home of English football. Once again, they look to have made easy work for qualification, but the script usually takes a turn for the worst at the finals, when disappointment and under-performance tend to follow.

Therefore, when the equaliser did come it was greeted as much in surprise as in expectation.

"Marcus Rashford's night? It wasn't so good to begin with but it got better".

'Not just this season, in terms of when I've been looking at him, but there was a long period last season where I think he's been the best defender. England takes on Slovakia today in the battle which will be hard and unpredictable one.

Three minutes later England had the lead for the first time. Slovakia had most of the possession in the first half, but they couldn't create any other real chances and England slowly grew into the game with Dele Alli and Harry Kane getting shots at goal.

The England fans applauded Rashford's performance when the youngster was substituted late in the game.

However, Rashford found the victor after Eric Dier's equaliser to leave his country needing just one win to qualify for next summer's World Cup in Russian Federation.

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