World Cup 2010 - England win to stay alive

Wed, 23 Jun 16:55:00 2010

England reached the second round of the World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Slovenia in their make-or-break encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

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Jermain Defoe scored the only goal of the game after 23 minutes.

The United States' injury-time winner against Algeria means that Fabio Capello's side finish second in Group C and will face Germany in the second round on Sunday, while Slovenia are eliminated.

After days of speculation, Capello kept faith with a 4-4-2 formation with James Milner, who started the opening game against the United States on the left flank, recalled on the right side of midfield in place of Aaron Lennon and Defoe replacing Emile Heskey.

And it was the two who combined for the vital goal. A superb cross from the right was met by Defoe who volleyed into the roof of the net from close range.

Slovenia keeper Samir Handanovic was beaten for pace as the Tottenham striker nipped in ahead of Marko Suler from seven yards.

England survived a tense finale to reach the last 16 although Landon Donovan's winner in Pretoria means that Sunday afternoon's clash in Bloemfontein will be against the winners of Group D and that could be Germany.

England had been threatening before the goal. Frank Lampard's long-range effort was held by Handanovic, Wayne Rooney's shot was deflected behind for a corner, John Terry headed a corner at the near post wide and Glen Johnson's long-range effort was well held.

And England, who had a tentative start, then visibly grew in confidence after Defoe's 12th international goal.

Another superb Milner cross was pushed out by Handanovic but Lampard failed to hit the target with his follow-up from 18 yards.

The Udinese shot stopper then made a double save, repelling Defoe's fiercely struck drive before Steven Gerrard's sidefooted effort destined for the bottom corner was stopped, although the ball nearly trickled under Handanovic's arm.

Defoe had a golden chance to add a second shortly after the interval, Lampard sending Handanovic's punch back towards goal and the goal scorer flicking his effort about a foot wide when unmarked from six yards.

Defoe, included in England's starting line-up for the first time since the opening competitive match of Capello's reign, then had a goal ruled out after a marginal offside decision against Rooney before Handanovic produced another great save to keep out Terry's powerful header at the near post.

And then Rooney came agonisingly close to breaking his eight-match international goal drought when he brought down Lampard's through ball only to see his shot tipped against the upright.

The Manchester United star also unleashed a long-range drive straight down the throat of Handanovic and a goalbound header was deflected for a corner.

But nerves began to creep in and Slovenia threatened.

David James had largely been called into action to claim long-range efforts from Valter Birsa but he was thankful for Terry who dived full length to repel Milivoje Novakovic's effort before Johnson got in the way of Zlatko Dedic's shot and finally Robert Koren dragged his shot wide.

Joe Cole replaced Rooney with 18 minutes remaining with England still knowing that a Slovenia equaliser would knock them out at the group stage for the first time since 1958.

And only a superb sliding tackle from Matthew Upson denied Slovenia sub Tim Matavz a clean sight of goal in the final minute.

But England held on and, after all the drama of the week, can now look forward to a last-16 encounter against their historic rivals in Bloemfontein.

Match Stats

Slovenia v England

Goals 0-1

1st Half Goals 0-1

Shots on Target 3-8

Shots off Target 4-4

Blocked Shots 4-2

Corners 2-11

Fouls 19-20

Offsides 1-1

Yellow Cards 3-1

Red Cards 0-0

Passing Success 64.7%-76.5%

Tackles 18-14

Tackles Success 83.3%-71.4%

Possession 38.8%-61.2%

Territorial Advantage 44.1%-55.9%

Lee Walker / Eurosport

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