October 11, 2016 18:24
Interim England manager Gareth Southgate looks on from the touchline
FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 RUSSIA QUALIFIERS: SLOVENIA 0-0 ENGLAND
World Cup 2018 Russia European Qualifying: Slovenia 0-0 England
Gareth Southgate’s team remain on top of Group F thanks to great defending and some amazing saves from Joe Hart after their 0-0 draw away in the Balkans today.
The England national football team headed to Slovenia looking to maintain their 100% record in 2018 World Cup Russia qualifying in the first real tough test of Gareth Southgate’s managing credentials and consideration of being hired on as permanent England manager. Last Saturday England beat Malta 2-0 in a quiet match that the Three Lions could easily have scored more goals in except for some heroic goalkeeping. Having beaten Slovenia twice in qualifying for Euro 2016, England traveled to Slovenia in a confident mood expecting to return home with 3 points that would put England in a strong position in Group F with victories in 2 difficult matches out of the way in their battles on the road to World Cup 2018 in Russia.
England veteran goalkeeper Joe Hart kept a clean sheet and no goals were scored for either side. The clash ended in a 0-0 draw, and England return home still not having lost a single match this campaign.
Tottenham Hotspur mid-fielder Eric Dier returned for England to face Slovenia in their World Cup 2018 qualifier on Tuesday evening. Dier missed England’s 2-0 victory against Malta at Wembley in London due to a hamstring injury, in interim manager Gareth Southgate’s debut.
Veteran England Captain Wayne Rooney, who played in a deep-lying midfield role against Malta, was dropped to the bench for the Three Lions clash with Slovenia. Jordan Henderson captained the team for the match. Southgate said Jordan Henderson's experience as Liverpool captain made him the stand out candidate to replace Wayne Rooney for the match. Rooney said he respects Southgate's decision to drop him to the bench against Slovenia.
Rooney says he "understands and respects" Gareth Southgate's decision to drop him and accepts he is no longer the first name on the team sheet. Thirty-year-old Rooney, the country's all-time leading goal scorer, is faced with conflict and indecision by his new boss over his best position for the England side. Roo has also been dropped to the bench at times by Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho in a "difficult" period in his career.
Gareth Southgate made a controversial big decision in his short reign as interim England manager by dropping captain Wayne Rooney to the bench for the start of the Three Lion’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Slovenia. The England and Manchester United skipper was booed by Wembley fans in the Three Lions’ match against Malta last week. Southgate responded by relegating superstar striker Rooney to the bench and temporarily handing the captain’s armband to Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.
Previously Slovenia drew level with Scotland two points off England with a 74th-minute strike from sub Rok Kronaveter in a 1-0 win over Slovakia last weekend in the first win for Srecko Katanec’s side since March.
Danger man Kevin Kampl withdrew from the Slovenia squad for the match with England following an argument with coach Srecko Katanec claiming exhaustion as the reason, but was heavily criticized by his side for his actions. Rok Kronaveter started, having scored the winner at the weekend after coming on from the bench for only his 2nd cap.
This was the fifth contest between these two nations, with England winning all previous four matches. In England's last meeting with Slovenia back in June 2015; Jack Wilshere scored twice for the Three Lions.
Slovenia defeated Slovakia 1-0 on Saturday to move to 4 points after a 2-2 draw in Lithuania in their first group game meaning any kind of result against England would leave them well placed to compete for 2nd place in Group F. Slovenia can claim some pedigree having qualified for 3 major tournaments including 2 World Cups. However they haven’t played in a major tournament match since losing 1-0 to England in South Africa 6 years ago.
Slovenia went into the game on the back of their confidence-boosting 1-0 victory against Slovakia. Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec asked his men to approach the game cautiously.
"I warned the guys against too much euphoria due to the Slovakia result," said Katanec. "You cannot compare the two teams; England has a lot more quality in every way. The team functions very well and we expect a tough match in every aspect. England have very quick players and very fast in transition from defense to attack. But we don't need to be afraid of the game or afraid to lose. The guys are unburdened."
Jordan Henderson hailed Wayne Rooney ahead of England's World Cup qualifier against Slovenia. The Liverpool captain and midfielder was named as temporary captain ahead of the match after temporary manager Gareth Southgate revealed that Rooney would not start.
“Wayne is very experienced and, for me, he has been one of the best players in the world for many years," said Henderson. "He sets an example to all of us on and off the field. He is someone we all look up to as a captain and a leader for his experience and the type of person that he is. He is massive for this team and just because he is not playing [against Slovenia], it won’t change anything. I am sure people will make a big deal of him not starting but, in football, teams change tactically for different opposition and for different reasons. This doesn’t change anything for us as a team in terms of Wayne not starting. He is our captain, he leads by example and he’ll be ready to come on and make an impact when given the opportunity."
To date, Southgate has been in charge of two games for England earning a win against Malta and a draw in Ljubljana. England have not yet suffered their first defeat in a qualifying fixture in seven years. England had trouble getting it together after dropping Wayne Rooney to the bench, but Southgate’s side remain on top of Group F thanks to some excellent saves from Joe Hart, after securing a point in Ljubljana. England rarely passed the ball with any authority and with the past two match performances having a bearing on the selection process, it is difficult to find compelling evidence of why to hire Southgate full-time. In the game in which Wayne Rooney was restricted to the role of a 73rd-minute sub England’s fans booed at the final whistle. England are indebted to fabulous saves from Joe Hart for their point and staying on top.
Oblak; Struna, Samardzic, Cesar, Jokic; Krhin; Kurtic, Verbic; Birsa; Ilicic, Bezjak. Subs: Koprivec, Belec, Skubic, Jovic, Crnic, Novakovic, Trajkovski, Mevlja, Kronaveter, Zajc, Pihler, Omladic.
Hart; Walker, Stones, Cahill, Rose; Dier, Henderson, Alli; Walcott, Sturridge, Lingard. Subs: Forster, Pickford, Gibbs, Smalling, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Antonio, Keane, Townsend, Rooney, Vardy, Rashford.
*See match report: World Cup 2018 Qualifiers: England 2-0 Malta
England Tickets - FIFA World Cup European Qualifying
England kicked off their Group F campaign on September 4, 2016 with an away match with Slovakia, hosting Malta at home on October 8, and travelling to Slovenia three days later to earn a clean sheet and 0-0 draw.
Three Lions fans are eagerly awaiting the exciting November 11 home clash with Scotland at Wembley Stadium in London, with the return fixture taking place on June 10, 2017. England's 10-match qualification Group F series concludes with a trip to Lithuania on Sunday October 8, with the top side in Group F guaranteed World Cup qualification. European qualification is comprised of nine groups A-I, with the eight best-placed runners-up going forward to a two-leg qualification playoff.
Sunday 4 September 2016
Slovakia - England
Saturday 8 October 2016
England - Malta
Tuesday 11 October 2016
Slovenia 0-0 England
Friday 11 November 2016
England v Scotland
Sunday 26 March 2017
England v Lithuania
Saturday 10 June 2017
Scotland v England
Friday 1 September 2017
Malta v England
Monday 4 September 2017
England v Slovakia
Thursday 5 October 2017
England v Slovenia
Sunday 8 October 2017
Lithuania v England
The Three Lions are unbeaten this season, and are unbeaten in their last 32 qualifiers overall. England have kept clean sheets in seven of their last eight away qualifying matches. Now is a good time to buy your football tickets to watch England’s amazing campaign as they battle for qualification in the upcoming World Cup 2018.
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MAR 26 World Cup 2018 Qualifiers England v Lithuania Tickets Wembley Stadium - London, United Kingdom
JUN 10 World Cup 2018 Qualifiers Scotland v England Tickets Hampden Park - Glasgow, United Kingdom
SEP 4 World Cup 2018 Qualifiers England v Slovakia Tickets Wembley Stadium - London, United Kingdom
OCT 5 World Cup 2018 Qualifiers England v Slovenia Tickets Wembley Stadium - London, United Kingdom
Wayne Rooney, England and Manchester United captain
Jordan Henderson, Liverpool and temporary England captain
Jordan Henderson and Wayne Rooney exchange captain's armband
Joe Hart, England #1 goalkeeper
Joe Hart’s amazing performance at Stožice Stadium helped his side secure a draw in Slovenia. The Three Lions’ stalemate with Slovenia means their winning run in World Cup qualifiers ended at 14, but they still have not suffered a defeat. The point earned keeps England at the top of Group F and the 29-year-old super-star goalie had to be quick off his line in each half to first deny Roman Bezjak and then Josip Ilicic. His best save arrived shortly after half-time stopping Jasmin Kurtic’s header aimed at the top-right corner. Hart said the point could prove crucial on the Road to Russia 2018.
"They had some chances, but we dominated the game,” Hart said. “That was down to how they set up though so a lot of respect goes to them tonight. They have dug in and Jan Oblak, who I am a massive fan of had a fantastic game in goal for them. It was an interesting game and it's 0-0 and we are going to have to take it.
“It's my best game for a while, I was asked to do quite a bit but it was down to a few errors from us,” added Hart. “We are going to improve, we are a young team and we have dug in in an intense atmosphere. On the night it is a disappointing result but we have to look at the bigger picture and we are trying to qualify for Russia. My body is in absolute pieces and I'll struggle to get up tomorrow I think. Kurtic got across to the corner and flicked it and I did everything I could to keep it out.
“I landed on the frame of the goal and luckily the lads were there to defend – it hurt!” said Hart
England and Tottenham Hotspur mid-fielder Eric Dier