England Report v Slovenia
Stozice Stadium, Ljubljana
The curtain came down on the England season, which since the world cup has - this cannot be questioned - been a 'positive one', with the game in Slovenia as our Euro 2016 qualification bid continued.
It's now played six won six after a 3-2 win at the Stozice Stadium.
There were some real highs that England can take positives from and some serious worries as defensively we looked a shambles at times we definitely needed a settled backline as we've basically not managed this all season, and it's showed at times! It definitely did in Slovenia...
Sterling, who hasn't really been 'on it' recently, started positively with Hodgson keeping faith with him. Ahead of the game Hodgson said he wouldn't 'bow to public pressure' in his decision making and he was right not to as the Liverpool man started brightly, with him involved with our most dangerous moments.
Within 5-minutes he should have scored, at least hit the target when he found himself on but his effort was lifted over the bar when perhaps a little more composure, and waiting a little longer for it to drop could have seen him smash it in - easy to say from the comfort of my armchair mind!
Another chance saw his effort wide, although this was deflected wide too.
Next up, again with him instrumental to it, was an awesome ball across the six-yard box that was crying out for a poaching 'fox in the box' but there wasn't one as the ball 'flashed across' the area...
The first save, and to be fair what a save, came from Slovenia goalie Handanovic who got down really well to turn away Rooney's drive with a strong hand. This was made all the more impressive given is was so low and powerful with going through a defenders legs so he wouldn't have seen it until late.
England continued to retain the ball, play patiently, but the openings weren't coming then suddenly Slovenia stunned us with half time approaching when we allowed Novakovic in...he made no mistake to make in 1-0!
A poor goal to concede as we held a terrible poor high line, and this all stemmed from a poor attacking Jones throw in, giving a man with little pace the chance to run into space before beating Hart - as they had at Wembley, making them the only side to score against us in this group, Slovenia were ahead and they hasn't conceded a home goal either so we had it all to do.
Lallana was called for at half time with Jones, yep due to another injury apparently, going off. I think we should have played a full committed right back but Hodgson went for Jones and then it was another square peg in a round hole when he went off, this brought a juggle in personnel but Lallana was certainly making an impact with him key to our equaliser 10-minutes into the 2nd half.
His run ended with the ball dropping to Wilshere on the edge of the box and he, despite Novakovic getting a hand to it, riffled us level with a sweet strike.
Within a couple of minutes the game should have been won with Rooney blowing, as he continues to as he looks to beat Sir Bobby Charlton's record, two glorious chances failing to hit the target on either occasion...
Despite those poor misses, and they were poor, we were taking charge with an offside flag narrowly denying us a chance to take the lead - as it happens Rooney failed to score anyway with his effort hitting the post!
Novakovic was to be beaten again though, matching his Arsenal tally for the season, another stunning Wilshere strike - leaving the keeper rooted - had us 2-1 up and on track to retain our 100% record.
Having been fortunate to retain 10 men, when the captain - as he had at Wembley - was lucky to avoid a red card for an elbow on Rooney, Slovenia struck back with a little over 5-minutes to play with former Sheffield Wednesday man Pecnik heading home having come off the bench!
Again poor defensive work from England, in fairness a good header but the lack of a recognised right back cost us. Talk about shutting the gate after the horse had bolted, in the aftermath of the goal we finally brought on Clyne.
So, a draw it now looked like...
But there was yet more drama as within moments though it was 3-2 with Rooney FINALLY finishing when put away and clear - I'm still not sure if it was a ball played through or the attempted defensive challenge that put him away? Not that it mattered, he did the rest.
A goal to bring him level with Lineker and just one behind Sir Bobby now, most importantly for us it proved to be the winner to see us go the season unbeaten, the first time in 24-years as we stay away and clear at the top.
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