England entered the qualifier against Slovenia sitting comfortably atop Group F, in no real danger of missing the World Cup. Slovenia’s fate, however, is less certain. Slovakia, Slovenia, and Scotland are fighting it out for the last two qualifying spots in the group.
The first half was an entirely pedestrian affair. For all the talent England has, none of it was on display. Things started to heat up around the 60th minute with Rashford nearly finding the back of the net on what would have been a sublime chip.
That woke everyone – players, fans, and those watching at home – from the collective stupor induced by the first half.
A few minutes later, Slovenia’s center-back Cesar made two great defensive stops to keep England from scoring, contorting his body like a hockey goalie to prevent a certain goal. It’s clear why he wears the captain’s armband.
Despite being the side that needed the win to punch their ticket to Russia, Slovenia was on their back foot the entire second half.
The game’s most exciting moment came when an English fan ran onto the pitch and briefly evaded security. The announcers on FS1 didn’t miss the opportunity to express their disappointment.
“A grave reflection on the evening that it’s causing so much glee.”
England captain Harry Kane sealed the game in stoppage time, finishing a cross from the right flank and dashing any fleeting hope Slovenia may have had of leaving the game with a draw or win.
Head and shoulders above the rest of their qualifying group, England’s eyes are now squarely set on Russia. With players like Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, and Dele Alli, manager Gareth Southgate has more than enough firepower on the squad to contend with the best in world football.
It remains whether to be seen if this talented England squad can finally produce on the world stage, but they’ve put themselves in position to do so.