England v Slovakia: Big-match focus

Philippe Coutinho is still at Liverpool despite interest from Barcelona
Philippe Coutinho is still at Liverpool despite interest from Barcelona
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05 September, 2017

Gareth Southgate praised Marcus Rashford's fearlessness in overcoming an early error to score the match-winner that sealed a 2-1 win for England over Slovakia at Wembley, and felt it also reflected the developing "maturity" of his young side.

After making the worst possible start at Wembley, goals form Eric Dier and Marcus Rashford have all but guaranteed qualification for next summer's World Cup.

Jones has raised eyebrows in recent matches and has helped Manchester United clear a clean net in three league games and the 25-year-old has played his 22nd game with England to help keep the nets clean in a 4-0 win over Malta on Friday.

Group winners qualify automatically for the World Cup next year in Russian Federation.

"I saw someone in the England team who took responsibility, who wasn't afraid to take the ball forward, cajoling, encouraging his team-mates", said former Man United and Everton defender, as quoted on BBC 5 Live Sport's official Twitter account on Monday night.

When asked about Rashford's performance where the youngster managed to play both hero and villain, Dier responded: "It wasn't so good to begin with but it got better!"

"A fantastic show of character after making a mistake to score and then score the victor which got us closer to the World Cup where hopefully he will shine".

Rashford's corner was poorly struck but Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dier showed a striker's instinct to get ahead of his marker and sweep a right-footed shot past Martin Dubravka. "At times he has to do better but his work on the ball, the maturity of his performance and his ability to go past people was devastating to the opposition and lifted the whole crowd".

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They then had to survive a bit of late pressure, but they still had a late chance to secure what would have been a vital victory. Arter said: "I've got a job to do for the team and where we are in the group now, it's not a time for anyone to be learning".

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But the course is in great condition. "Just didn't feel like I got into a good flow, but I managed the round really well". Most of the time, he's been able to recover from shaky turns, and perhaps that will still be the case going forward.

England could not find the third goal that would have killed off the visitors but they did enough to earn three vital points.

With two games remaining, Northern Ireland is assured of finishing at least second in the group after a 2-0 win over the Czechs in Belfast.

"It's been a big week for them", said Southgate.

"You have to get back to basics; just do what you've been taught and what you've been working on as a team and in the end that's what got us back into the game".

It was a feeling Scotland last experienced in the World Cup against Holland in 1978 just after Archie Gemmill scored THAT goal that made it 3-1 to Scotland.

"It's apparent they've got some good footballers and who knows the way the game is going to flow?"

"We needed a win to get us closer to the World Cup, that's the objective".

"We have seen lots of England's home games and they have incredible quality".


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