England got the result they needed and a goal after just 22 minutes from Jermaine Defoe was enough to take England through to the round of the last 16.
Jermaine Defoe – scored England goal today
England started off with the following line-up – which had been correctly reported in the English newspapers this morning:
Johnson Terry Upson Cole (A)
Milner Lampard Barry Gerrard
England started off the game looking much improved from their two opening games and played the ball around well, and after the 15 minutes England had much more of the play and were attacking Slovenia.
And the breakthrough goal came after just 22 minutes when a great right-wing cross from former Newcastle winger James Milner was put into the net by the recalled Jermaine Defoe from six yards out.
It was a good goal for England and just what they needed to put them into a position where if the score didn’t change, they would qualify for the last 16.
But England should have been more than 1-0 up at the break when good chances were missed by Gerrard and Lampard and on another day both players would have scored from their chances.
In particular Frank Lampard had an open goal to aim at when another Milner cross undid the Slovenian defense, but the Chelsea midfielder hit the ball high and wide to the left.
In the second half England kept up their attacks, but while it stayed at just 1-0 the Slovenians always had a chance to qualify for sure – independent of the USA-Algeria result – by getting the one goal that would take them through and put England out of the competition.
England tried to get that second goal in the final 45 minutes, but it seems nothing comes easy to England, just like at Newcastle, but the lads got the job done and qualified for the final 16 but now may face Germany.
The second half got a little nervy, but the lads hung on but they finish only second in the group, as the USA dramatically beat Algeria with an injury time goal from Landon Donovan to get the 1-0 win and the USA finish on top with 5 points but a better goal difference than England.
A 2-0 England win would have seen them top the group, which would have been all we could have asked for, but that was not to be.
England will now meet the winners of Group D and that will be decided by tonight’s two games in that group. Possible winners of Group D are Germany, Ghana, and Slovakia, with the Germany Ghana game a key match tonight.
But today England played somewhere close to the form we know they possess, so all in all it was a very good win when it mattered but by not winning the group we may have a tough game against Germany in the next round.
But for a fantastic block from Matthew Upson in injury time in the penalty area, Slovenia would have equalized and it would have been curtains for the English.
But if we play like we know we can – England can win the next game – whoever they play – and make it to the quarter finals – as the belief in the England players will now have returned from today’s result.
England dodged a bullet today, but great credit to the lads for getting the job done.