After a 2-0 victory at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, England and interim manager Gareth Southgate battled to a scoreless draw against Slovenia on Tuesday. The result keeps England on top of Group F in 2018 World Cup qualifying with seven points.
SLOVENIA VS ENGLAND: MATCH REVIEW
The first half saw the Three Lions makes some positive movements, as captain Jordan Henderson and Dele Alli linked up well again to cause some early pressure. But the home side seemed well-prepared for the task at hand and were disciplined at the back.
A turnover from England midfielder Eric Dier sprung Slovenia into attack, as goalkeeper Joe Hart was called upon to make a critical save.
The midfield for England stuttered on several occasions, often fouling their opposition and giving up freekicks in dangerous areas. Slovenia brought constant pressure from their frontline throughout the evening.
The second half almost saw immediate disaster, as Slovenia cut up the right side and tested the England defence immediately. Hart was called upon again to come up with a crucial stop.
Wayne Rooney was brought on late as England began to find more opportunities at goal, but Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak kept the clean sheet intact for the hosts.
A GREATER TEST
Saturday’s match against Malta provided Southgate and his men their first victory together, but Slovenia provided their first true test.
Malta were content to keep numbers behind the ball and wait for their chance to strike on the counter. Slovenia, however, were much more proactive in bringing the match to the visitors.
A major storyline heading into the contest was Southgate’s decision to start Dier over Rooney in midfield. A mistake in the first half that almost resulted in a Slovenia goal and a first-half yellow card highlighted a difficult evening for Dier amid constant pressing.
Southgate’s choice was met with some criticism that will be bound to persist after a disappointing result. Rooney was subbed on in the 73rd minute for Alli and brought chances late, but his appearance could not find the breakthrough goal.
After a strong performance on Saturday, Henderson also did not have the same impact on Tuesday night with his passing and freekicks.
In the attack, Jesse Lingard and Theo Walcott struggled in the final third. Southgate and England supporters will want to see more from their attacking line moving ahead.
Positioning was a concern for England’s backline, as Slovenia’s Josip Ilicic and Roman Bezjak caused problem after problem for Southgate’s squad.
Fullbacks Danny Rose and Kyle Walker got forward often, which left space at the back to exploit for Slovenia. John Stones and Gary Cahill were required to make several desperate attempts at stopping scoring chances. Joe Hart’s numerous incredible saves were essential to England finding a point in their travels.
England will host Scotland in their next World Cup qualifier on November 11th, while Slovenia will travel to Malta on the same day.
SLOVENIA: Oblak, Struna, Samardzic, Cesar (Mevlja 69’), Jokic, Krhin (Omladic 84’), Kurtic, Birsa (Kronaveter 59’), Verbic, Ilicic, Bezjak
Unused subs: Belec, Koprivec, Trajkovski, Jovic, Skubic, Pihler, Zajc, Crnic, Novakovic
ENGLAND: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Stones, Rose, Dier, Henderson, Alli (Rooney 73’), Walcott (Townsend 62’), Sturridge (Rashford 82’), Lingard
Unused subs: Forster, Pickford, Gibbs, Smalling, Keane, Antonio, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Vardy
REFEREE: Deniz Aytekin