In a sentence
England dominate but have to survive a nervy finale.
Just three changes from the Algeria nightmare, but England were a different side. The confidence was back and with that came quality movement and passing which made goals look inevitable. Players who had previously gone awol looked determined to assert themselves on the game.
Rooney needs a goal but was at the centre of things, not the isolated and frustrated figure of before. One thing hasn’t changed since the tournament’s start; England’s progress will rely on him.
Attack from the back
Renowned football writer Jonathan Wilson recently said that the team with the best full-backs usually wins the World Cup. England have much to be pleased about in this department.
While Cole has been more accomplished, both him and Johnson have got forward at every opportunity. At times, they helped to flood the midfield and give other players time and space.
Amongst the pre-match fear, many forgot that Slovenia are an average side. While they could have troubled the hopeless England of the first two games, they had no answer to rampant England.
When they went behind, they weren’t able to carry any sustained threat. Perhaps the stand-out performer was keeper Handanovic who made several key saves.
A small gripe: when you are in charge and dominant, please kill the game off. Don’t decide to sit on your 1-0 lead with twenty minutes to go and risk the mental health of a nation
The moment – Slovenia’s trio of chances
Slovenia didn’t get many moments but with just over twenty minutes, they had three shots in a matter of seconds. England’s defence did well to get bodies in the way.
Relief at qualification will temper England’s frustration at failing to win the group. Whoever they play, they should at least go into that game without dressing room distractions and a rabid press.