Tuesday, July 23, 2024

England 2-1 Slovakia (aet): Kane sends Three Lions into last eight after Bellingham´s last-gasp hero

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Jun 2024

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Jude Bellingham salvaged England’s Euro 2024 hopes before Harry Kane’s extra-time finish proved the difference in a 2-1 comeback victory over Slovakia in Sunday’s last-16 clash.

Gareth Southgate’s team appeared to be heading for an early exit in Gelsenkirchen after Ivan Schranz opened the scoring midway through the first half with his third goal of the Euros.

Phil Foden saw an equaliser disallowed soon after the interval and Declan Rice was denied by the post late on, only for Bellingham to deliver a heroic overhead-kick equaliser five minutes into stoppage time.

Kane then headed home from point-blank range just 50 seconds into extra time for the fastest such goal in Euros history, stealing victory from the jaws of defeat to tee up a last-eight meeting with Switzerland.

England suffered an early blow as Marc Guehi’s third-minute caution saw him ruled out of the last-eight clash through suspension, while Slovakia twice went close in the early stages.

David Hancko drove narrowly wide before England were nearly caught out again when Lukas Haraslin’s deflected effort almost slipped past Jordan Pickford.

A lacklustre England defence was finally punished after 25 minutes as David Strelec rolled through for Schranz to brush off Guehi before poking into the bottom-left corner.

England thought they had levelled just minutes after the interval, only for Foden to be ruled offside from Kieran Trippier’s selfless cross before a routine tap-in.

The Three Lions survived a scare soon after as John Stones switched off from a short free-kick, with Strelec almost lobbing Pickford from the centre-circle.

Cole Palmer was eventually introduced after 66 minutes, with the ineffective Bukayo Saka moved to left-back, but that change did little to alter England’s fortunes.

Kane headed wide a glorious opportunity from Foden’s free-kick, while Rice cannoned a driving effort against the woodwork from range – but England would be saved by Bellingham.

Kyle Walker’s long throw-in was nudged on by Guehi before Bellingham wrong-footed Martin Dubravka with an astonishing overhead finish from the penalty spot, keeping England alive in the dying seconds.

That joy turned to further jubilation moments into the additional 30 minutes as Eberechi Eze’s scuffed volley found Ivan Toney, who flicked into the path of Kane to head past Dubravka from point-blank range.

Peter Pekarik should have levelled after 105 minutes but somehow lifted over from the back post as England scraped into the quarter-finals following a thriller at Arena AufSchalke.

England still alive, barely

Kane (79) overtook Peter Shilton (78) as the player with the most ever competitive appearances for England, but a landmark outing appeared set to turn sour.

England had won five of six previous meetings with Slovakia but, as was the case against Iceland in 2016, the Three Lions were somewhat toothless against what FIFA’s world rankings would perceive to be a lesser side.

Yet unlike against Iceland, England had a new hero in Bellingham as his goal, timed at 94 minutes and 34 seconds, marked the latest goal for his country in Euros history.

That paved the way for a familiar face to wrap up a remarkable turnaround as Kane scored his 14th goal in major tournaments – only four European players have ever managed more.

Cristiano Ronaldo (22), Miroslav Klose (19), Gerd Muller (18) and Jurgen Klinsmann (16) are the quartet to achieve the feat, and Kane will hope to catch the latter when England meet Switzerland next time out.

Super Schranz heroics in vain

Schranz has scored three goals in four games for Slovakia at Euro 2024, as many as he had netted in 22 games for his country coming into the tournament (three).

The forward is now the joint-top scorer at this tournament, while only Robert Vittek at the 2010 World Cup (four) has ever scored more goals for Slovakia at a major tournament.

Yet Schranz’s heroics for Matjaz Kek’s side ultimately proved in vain as Slovakia were finally undone by late England pressure, with Southgate’s side equalising from their first shot on target.

Though this battling performance will deservedly bring plaudits, Slovakia have now lost six of seven meetings with England and are heading home from Euro 2024.

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