Belfast Telegraph

Redemption for Rashford as England survive scare


By Carl Markham

Marcus Rashford admits he went "back to basics" to help England all-but book their place at next summer's World Cup with a 2-1 win over Slovakia.

The Three Lions had to come from behind at Wembley after Rashford's error early on allowed Stanislav Lobotka to open the scoring.

The Manchester United forward recovered to set up Eric Dier to equalise and then scored the winner in the second half himself to complete the turnaround.

Gareth Southgate's side now sit five points clear at the top of Group F with two qualifying matches remaining and Rashford hailed an important three points.

He said: "It was an important goal, we started a bit slow as a team - and me on a personal note - but we got back into the game together and got the win in the end which is all that matters.

"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. In these games it's important to start fast because of the quality which is on the pitch and if you don't you pay for it."

England conceded after just three minutes when an error from Rashford was capitalised on by Lobotka.

The 19-year-old made amends, though, when his corner was swept home at the near post by Dier after 36 minutes.

Rashford went one better after the break, lashing home a right-footed effort from just outside the box to hand England a vital victory.

Talking about Rashford's performance, Dier jokingly said: "It wasn't so good to begin with but it got better!"

The Tottenham midfielder added: "He did really well, it was a fantastic show of character to make a mistake and to come back and score the winner himself which gets us closer to the World Cup, which hopefully he'll shine at as well, so credit to him.

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

"To do it the way we did, it was difficult, we started the game really poorly as a team, but we bounced back which was fantastic."

England boss Southgate was also impressed by the performance of Rashford.

He said: "Like the rest of the team, he showed great character. He's obviously made the mistake for the goal, but kept persevering and was a real threat.

"It's very early, we've got to keep things in perspective, but he is exciting. He can have an impact in games but there's a long way to go.

"We gave him last summer off from going with the U21s and he's benefited from that.

"We didn't start the game well but I was pleased with the way the players reacted on the field. They got themselves into better positions. We were stretched in the first 15 minutes or so.

"Great credit to the players for staying in the game and then in the second half we were in control. We didn't give them space to play."

On an incident in which Dele Alli appeared to make a gesture towards the referee, Southgate added: "I've not seen it, but we'll have a look at it over the next couple of days."

England have games against Slovenia and Lithuania remaining - two points from those two games will be enough to book a place in Russia.

England: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Jones, Bertrand, Henderson, Dier, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Sterling 82),Alli (Livermore 90), Rashford (Welbeck 83),Kane.

Slovakia: Dubravka, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Hubocan, Skriniar, Lobotka, Weiss (Rusnak 68), Hamsik (Duda 78), Mak, Nemec (Duris 68).

Referee: Clement Turpin (France).

Belfast Telegraph

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