Harry Kane’s late winner papers over England cracks in dull Slovenia victory

first_img1 Harry Kane celebrates the winning goal Harry Kane fired England to next summer’s World Cup but his last-gasp winner cannot paper over the cracks after Gareth Southgate’s men limped to victory against limited Slovenia.Dull, flat and uneventful all aptly describe a Group F encounter that may secure World Cup qualification but leaves just as many questions as answers – an all too common theme in recent matches.So underwhelming was this encounter that fans seemed more excited about paper planes landing on the pitch, with England offering precious little to shout about until captain Kane directed home to secure a stodgy 1-0 win in stoppage time.The Three Lions may be able to book their flights for Russia but this listless display against a the ranked 55th in the world only underlines the work that needs to be done to stop next summer ending up like the last World Cup or Euro 2016.After a dreadful opening period, Marcus Rashford, Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane had efforts in quick succession during a brief flash of second-half excitement – but there were also moments when Slovenia threatened to inflict a first qualifying defeat since October 2009.Such a ponderous performance tested fans’ patience, but those that waited around finally had a moment to enjoy in stoppage time as Kane beat Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak from a fine Walker cross.While this did not feel like a particularly positive occasion, Southgate deserves credit for taking the reins in difficult circumstances following Sam Allardyce’s exit and steering England to the World Cup with a game to spare.The England boss can now use Sunday’s trip to Lithuania as a chance to experiment – a match Dele Alli is available for again having served a one-match ban against Slovenia.Sterling came in for Alli and quickly went about stretching the Slovenia defence, whose close attention John Stones claimed should have brought an early penalty.Possession failed to translate into clear-cut chances, though, and England’s play soon deteriorated.Slovakia took an early lead at Wembley last month when Rashford made a mistake in his own third and this time it was Sterling whose sloppiness put his side under pressure. Josip Ilicic ended up being threaded through, with Joe Hart appearing to catch him when sweeping up.No penalty was given and there was another sigh of relief when Roman Bezjak failed to connect with a cross against a struggling England side, whose captain Kane took aim for distance in a hopeful attempt.Oblak, Atletico Madrid’s superb goalkeeper, dealt with that comfortably and impressively swatted away a Jordan Henderson shot as Slovenia’s goal really came under threat for the first time.Play had long since stopped when Kane headed home a corner, with Oblak scampering across to tip wide Rashford’s free-kick before Manchester United attacker’s corner was flicked wide at near post by Gary Cahill.Unfortunately, half-time did not bring an injection of excitement and urgency and Slovenia had the first attempt of the second half through Bojan Jokic.The visitors were not pulling up any trees but nor were the hosts offering any serious threat, with England taking until the 63rd minute to muster a serious second-half attempt.Sterling bared down on goal as the hosts caught out Slovenia’s backline and played in Rashford to get a clipped attempt away that was too weak and hacked away by Rajko Rotman.A crucial, if unorthodox, block from captain Bostjan Cesar prevented Sterling from slotting home in the 65th minute, with Kane flashing a first-time strike just as fans began to get excited about something aside from aiming to reach the pitch with paper planes.Tensions threatened to boil over as accusing glances were aimed at Stones, while at the other end Hart, looking in discomfort, burst off his line to bravely throw himself in front of Tim Matavz.It was a brave save, and a poor decision not to call offside by the linesman, with Southgate turning to defender Michael Keane as a uninspiring replacement for Sterling.Walker saw a drive denied by Oblak as England pushed for a goal that arrived deep in stoppage time.Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec could only laugh as Walker cut out Oblak’s throw and cross for Kane, whose shot had too much for the otherwise impressive goalkeeper at the death.last_img read more

Solskjaer ‘warns’ United players to perform in derby or leave

first_img 2 huge blow Getty 2 Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won Solskjaer was described as ‘going mad with the players’ by a source in The Sun.The Red Devils host Pep Guardiola’s title-chasing City side at Old Trafford on Wednesday.City have the chance to return to the top of the Premier League with three games to go and United’s arch-rivals Liverpool will be hoping for a favour.If United prevent Guardiola’s side from winning then it will hand Liverpool the edge in the title race. REVEALED United were thrashed 4-0 at Everton last Sunday BEST OF no dice LATEST FOOTBALL NEWS Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars Berahino hits back at b******t Johnson criticism – ‘I was in a dark place at Stoke’ Ronaldo warned Lukaku how hard scoring goals in Serie A would be before Inter move ADVICE Every time Ally McCoist lost it on air in 2019, including funny XI reactions Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury Solskjaer’s side are hoping to bounce back from a 4-0 thrashing against Everton on Sunday.According to The Sun, the manager told his players to show fight against United or get out.He said the win over Paris Saint-Germain meant nothing now and questioned whether they wanted to get in the top four. Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? shining Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will reportedly get rid of any players who fail to perform during the Manchester derby.Manchester United have lost six of their last eight games and are in danger of missing out on a Champions League place next season. REPLY Getty Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have been in poor form of late Ahead of clash with City, Solskjaer said: “A big, big part of being a Man United player is that you can deal with the pressure and be a leader.“The proof is on the pitch. It’s got to be happening on the pitch.“We’ve had some good meetings.“There have been some words said — the truth of course — and there are players there that stand up and show they want to help take this club forward.” REVEALED last_img read more