Gareth Southgate has praised Marcus Rashford for scoring the goal that has all but booked England’s place in next summer’s world cup finals, after their 2-1 victory over Slovakia on Monday night at Wembley.
No sooner had the match commenced, the Manchester United forward made an error of giving the ball away just outside the area, which let Stanislav Lobotka score the opener for Slovakia inside 3 minutes.
But after a slow start England bounced back with Eric Dier equalising just before the break as he flicked in a corner at the front post.
Rashford showed considerable character redeeming his earlier mistake in the 59th minute, after sending the ball from 22 yards out, spinning and dipping and bouncing across goal and in at the far post to increase the gap on Group F’s second-placed side to five points.
After the match Southgate spoke of the teenager’s response that earned him man of the match after an initial difficult start.
“Having worked with him, he’s such a mature character. The start surprised me, but I felt the switch of wings was important as well – it allowed him a slightly different defensive role, and he adapted very well to that,” he said.
“His maturity is excellent. You look at him and he’s never in awe of the occasion, he doesn’t have any fear of anything, although, to be fair, I don’t think the team did. I thought they responded well.
“He’s still a work in progress, as we saw at the beginning of the game, but he’s still getting stronger and his impact in taking people on, in getting us up the pitch in counter-attacks, was not only huge for the team but the crowd as well. He had a huge impact on the game.”
England showed great resilience during this match but there is still a great deal of work to be done before the critics will be convinced Southgate’s men have a chance of claiming the World Cup next summer.
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