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England on course for World Cup after comeback win

​Marcus Rashford's strike earned England a 2-1 comeback victory over Slovakia that put them on the verge of qualification for next year's World Cup

By Jamie Fletcher | Published: 5th September 2017 Sport

An evening that began worryingly for the young Manchester United striker when his sloppy mistake allowed Stanislav Lobotka to fire Slovakia into a shock lead ended with the crowd singing his name as he sparked England's revival.

Rashford's first international goal came on his debut in a friendly against Australia last May, but his second was of far greater importance as it put England five points ahead of Slovakia at the top of Group F with two games remaining.

The 19-year-old's corner was turned in by Eric Dier for England's equaliser towards the end of a torrid first half for Gareth Southgate's side. Rashford completed the job when he rifled in a 59th-minute winner.

Once again it was a patchy display by England but victory over Slovenia at Wembley next month will mean they can begin booking hotels in Russia.

"We started poorly and I am happy to get a goal that kickstarted the game for us. We were in control for most of the game then," Dier said.

"We weren't aggressive enough and were two seconds behind them in every pass. The way we turned it around was positive."

The expanse of empty red seats in Wembley's upper tiers spoke volumes for the lowered expectations around the England team these days after a succession of major tournament flops.

Even those eternal optimists amongst the 67,000 present must have feared the worst after a woeful opening by the hosts.

The game was only three minutes old when Rashford, preferred to Raheem Sterling after replacing him during Friday's flattering 4-0 win in Malta, gifted possession to Adam Nemec who played in Lobotka to poke the ball past the advancing Joe Hart.

It was the fastest goal conceded by England in a competitive match since San Marino's goal in 1993.

Wembley was stunned and England were rattled as their 17-match winning sequence in World Cup qualifiers looked in peril.