England take huge stride towards World Cup qualification with comeback win over Slovakia

England’s Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring their second goal Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley
England’s Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring their second goal Action Images via Reuters/John Sibley

England took a huge step towards qualifying for next summer’s World Cup with a battling victory over Slovakia at Wembley.

The Three Lions fell behind to a shock early goal in the capital before goals from Eric Dier and Marcus Rashford turned the tables.

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England now need seven points from their final three games to guarantee automatic qualification to the World Cup.

The reality is that number could actually be far less depending on other results and goal difference, leaving them very much in pole position in Group F.

Gareth Southgate called for an end to the booing of his players beforehand following Friday night’s criticism in Malta.

READ MORE: England’s win over Slovakia in stunning pictures

However, the Three Lions coach had his head in his hands and probably his fingers in his ears with less than three minutes on the clock.

It all stemmed from a mistake by Rashford as three Slovakians swarmed around him and Stanislav Lobotka breezed into the area and finish superbly.

Southgate’s team were rattled and the visitors showed their ability with some neat football, orchestrated by the brilliant Marek Hamsik.

Martin Dúbravka was rarely troubled before England grabbed a vital equaliser to quieten the dissenting voices around Wembley heading into half time.

Rashford was again involved, providing a somewhat fortunate assist with a poor corner, which Dier knocked in from close range to level things up under the arch.

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Slovakia’s Martin Dubravka looks dejected after England’s Eric Dier scores their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
Slovakia’s Martin Dubravka looks dejected after England’s Eric Dier scores their first goal Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
England’s Joe Hart celebrates after Marcus Rashford scores their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine
England’s Joe Hart celebrates after Marcus Rashford scores their second goal Action Images via Reuters/Carl Recine

England must have been given some stern words from Southgate during the interval because they did improve after the restart.

However, they nearly retook the lead against the run of play when Hamsik released Adam Nemec but Joe Hart was on hand to produce the save.

Rashford though was a man on a mission after his early error and continued to work hard in an attempt to atone for that moment of madness.

His reward came on the hour as he found redemption from range. Slovakia gave him too much space and the Man United striker drilled one into the far corner.

It was a lethal finish from a player with huge potential and one of the shining lights for Southgate’s team in a game that could easily have slipped away.

Instead, they took control of the situation and improved both on and off the ball in the second half to pick up a valuable three points.

The Three Lions are not quite on the plane to Russia just yet. Southgate, though, can start thinking about packing a bag with qualification almost secured.

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