herald

Thursday 19 October 2017

Kane the hero as England book Russian spot

Harry Kane
Harry Kane

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.

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.

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.

Kyle 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.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News