England book ticket to Russia 2018

England Harry Kane

A below-par England secured their passage to the 2018 World Cup as Harry Kane struck deep into injury time to clinch a 1-0 win over Slovenia at Wembley on Thursday.

England 1 Slovenia 0
Visitors denied early penalty
Henderson and Rashford test Oblak
Mevlja clears off line from Rashford
Kane scores stoppage-time winner

Match Summary

Gareth Southgate’s side would have qualified for the finals in Russia regardless of the result, after Slovakia lost to Scotland by the same scoreline.

But the Three Lions can breath easy knowing they achieved the feat as Group F winners with one game to spare – despite being quite poor for most of the night.

Full Report

The Three Lions struggled to open up the opposition in the first half, with their best chances coming from set-pieces.

They were fortunate not to concede an early penalty when a mistake from Raheem Sterling on 10 minutes allowed the visitors to counter, and Roman Bezjak crossed for Josip Ilicic, who was caught by Joe Hart but the referee waved play on.

Harry Kane got the first sniff at goal five minutes later as he cut inside and fired off a shot from 25 yards out that was dealt with by Jan Oblak, while Hart denied Andra Sporar soon afterwards having put Kyle Walker under pressure to give away possession.

Oblak pulled off a fine save to keep out Jordan Henderson on 26 minutes after the Liverpool midfielder had collected the ball on the left and looked to pick out the far corner of the net.

Walker failed to keep his free-kick down from the edge of the box 11 minutes later, while Gary Cahill flicked a header just over the crossbar from a corner as half-time approached, before Marcus Rashford forced Oblak into a desperate save with a long-range free-kick on the left in stoppage time.

The hosts were almost caught napping shortly after the restart when Bojan Jokic got on the end of Ilicic’s cross at the back post, but the left-back’s header was gathered by Hart at the second attempt.

Miha Mevlja came to Oblak’s rescue midway through the second half when he cleared Rashford’s scooped effort off the line following a breakaway from England, which saw Sterling play in the Manchester United striker, who managed to beat the keeper.

Srecko Katanec’s men survived another close scare moments later as Ryan Bertrand raced away down the left flank and found Sterling with a deflected cross, but the Manchester City winger’s shot was blocked by Botjan Cesar.

Kane missed the target on the rebound in the 69th minute after Sterling’s initial shot from inside the area had been blocked, and the Three Lions were so nearly punished in the closing stages.

Ilicic had enjoyed a good game for Slovenia and he created their only chance if the second half with a fine through-ball for Tim Matavz, but Hart was alert to the danger as he saved well at the feet of the substitute.

It proved crucial as the English finally made the breakthrough in the fourth minute of added time, Kane netting a late winner as he got ahead of his marker to steer home Walker’s cross from the right.