Slovenia 2-3 England

A brace from Jack Wilshere and Wayne Rooney’s 48th goal for England ensured a hard fought victory for England in Slovenia. England started well and limited attacks from Slovenia. However, they were unable to find the breakthrough, with Sterling scooping an effort over the bar and Rooney forcing a good save low down from Handonovic. Although the ITV team were saying that Sterling and Townsend had been picked to supply width, England did seem narrow at times. The breakthrough came in the 37th minute, but not as expected. A poor throw from Jones was picked up by Slovenia, who initiated a counter attack. Novakovic was not properly picked up by Smalling and Cahill allowed him to run (even trying to play him offside); Novakovic reached the ball at the edge of the area and rolled it past Hart into the far corner. Following the goal, Slovenia had much more possession and started to look more threatening.

The second half started as the first ended, with Slovenia enjoying possession. However, England managed to wrestle this back and levelled in the 57th minute with a fine strike from Wilshere who was just outside the area – Handonovic got a hand to it, but could not prevent it from going in. England built on this and Rooney had two great chances in quick succession, but was unable to take either. In the 73rd minute, Wilshere doubled his and England’s total with another fine left footed from outside the area which left Handonovic rooted to the spot. Slovenia regrouped and were able to level in the 84th minute, with Pecnik outjumping Gibbs on the far post and heading in a cross from England’s right. The scores remained level for 2 minutes before Rooney restored the lead for England and scored the winning goal, rolling the ball into the far post with his first touch from the edge of the area.

The six qualification games have seen 6 victories, with 18 goals scored and 3 conceded. Despite this impressive record, the relative weakness of the group needs to be taken into account. England are playing some good football, but concerns do remain, with players being wasteful in the final third and the defence looking shaky and prone to errors. Against top teams, it is difficult to see England being able to get away with this and it is difficult to make a strong case for England being potential winners at Euro 2016 at the this time.

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