- Dirty Sanchez: Wenger set to lose another Weapon from his Arsenal?
- Ibriana Jones: Red Devils of the Lost Ark!
- Chelsea set to win Title at a Kante!
- Leicester face tough choices as losses compile
- The Year of the Roo-ster!
- Marvel at the latest Craven Cottage arrival: Fulham Sign Thanos!
- Wayne Rooney’s goalscoring record is a rare piece of Manchester United history. Take notice.
- MOTD: Ibrahimovic salvages United point against Liverpool
- The Crystal (Palace) Maze!
- Glory Days for Andre Gray!
MOTD: England 3-1 Slovenia
Throughout the thirteen minutes when all four goals were scored by England and Slovenia tonight, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck showed the form that had been lacking at the World Cup in Brazil and at Manchester United last season. The Red Devils certainly would have done better than a seventh place finish that season if it weren’t for the scarcity of the type of combination play that they demonstrated tonight. Following a drab first half, the two lifted England up and scored all three of their goals on the night when they combined brilliantly in the second half and ripped apart Slovenia. On what was touted as a terrible Wembley pitch, their control and play in the final third was better than average, particularly during those thirteen key minutes.
Overall, it was not a brilliant performance from The Three Lions, but Slovenia looked far the inferior side and for Rooney it was enough to live up to the occasion of his 100th England cap. Not only did he win the penalty he converted, but it was at a pivotal moment just seconds after the restart from Slovenia’s surprise opener. That, however, is just the face of the match and it has to be said that outside those thirteen minutes England were still controlling the play yet failed to send a shot on target until the fifty-fifth minute. Welbeck had come close with a twenty yard effort dipping just wide of the post, though the miss hardly covered up the fact that the Arsenal forward missed the better option of simply returning a pass to Rooney that would have sent him through on goal.
In the first half England wasted several chances, with Rooney and Welbeck both heading wide with miles of space in the middle of the Slovenia box and Slovenia nearly passing the ball into the back of their own net, but the few chances the visitors did have on the counter-attack were threatening. Early on, in fact, Srečko Katanec’s side really should have taken the lead, only for Andraz Kirm to fail to make proper contact after having crept in at the far post to meet Valter Birsa’s cross. It was Slovenia that would take the lead, as well, as Jordan Henderson flicked a brilliant header from a crossed Slovenia free-kick… into the back of his own net.
England will be very happy with their response, though. Rooney shifted into a center forward role in England’s 4-3-3 having rotated with Raheem Sterling and Welbeck throughout the first half, and it worked. Just two minutes after going behind Rooney got the ball around the edge of Slovenia’s eighteen yard box and jinxed around multiple players, before Bostjan Cesar was the one to eventually make the inevitable tackle that would give England a penalty. It was only surprising that Cesar didn’t go in harder on Rooney as the last time Slovenia and England met the England skipper injured Cesar with a terrible challenge. Yet no matter, as England ripped apart Slovenia anyway. Rooney himself buried the penalty fifty-nine minutes in, and nearly set up another shortly afterwards only for his through ball to Sterling to be cut out by Slovenia goalkeeper Samir Handanovic. Wayne then headed wide from Adam Lallana’s cross, one of his few good deliveries all night, but it would end u being Welbeck who got the go-ahead goal for England.
The 23-year-old found Handanovic’s stop from Lallana’s deflected shot just six yards out, and though he misfired his effort it landed in the bottom right corner anyways. More was to come from Welbeck, and seventy-two minutes he then did a brilliant one-two down the left byline, before finding himself wide open in front of Handanovic and slotting home into the bottom right corner. Of course the Arsenal forward then went central, and soon after performed a wonderful little flick to put Henderson in down the right, and it was only a terrible cross that prevented Rooney from scoring wide open in the middle of Slovenia’s box. Those thirteen minutes were the first time England had begun to really combine well in the final third, and showed promise. However, it’s a bit late for Rooney and Welbeck to show promise working together; the former made his hundredth England cap today and may only have one World Cup left in him. Yet with consistency, England are now are younger team (including Nathaniel Clyne, who had a promising debut), and possibly, if they can replicate those thirteen minutes consistently, look forward to a promising Euro 2016.