England could drop at least two players but Bellingham, Kane save themselves

by judelynas318132

Phew, that was a lot to take in. England were poor again and didn’t really deserve it. But they’ve beaten Slovakia 2-1 in Gelsenkirchen to set up a Euro 2024 quarter-final with Switzerland.

They stared at an early exit directly in the face after Ivan Schranz’s opening goal. Jude Bellingham’s stunning overhead kick took it to extra time, where Harry Kane won it.

Here are the player ratings.

Jordan Pickford
Perhaps he could have closed Schranz down quicker to deny him as he bore down on goal, but he didn’t have much else to do on the night in truth.

Kyle Walker
The irony of all the talk pre-tournament and in the group stage being about where Trent Alexander-Arnold should play cannot be lost on anyone. The argument that the Liverpool man should not play at right-back because he isn’t as strong defensively was not in evidence here.

Walker looked a yard off the pace every time Slovakia attacked and he wasn’t up with the play enough to support Saka before his switch to left-back in the second half when Trippier went off. Walker’s place in the England team shouldn’t be as safe as it has been after tonight.

Marc Guehi
Probably England’s most consistent performer across the tournament, but he was perhaps most at fault for the Slovakian goal. Generally recycled possession well in the second half as the match was played almost exclusively in the other half of the pitch as it went on.

Who can forget his incredible assist for Bellingham’s goal, too?

John Stones
His misreading of Walker’s pass almost led to an embarrassing moment which would have made him infamous forever. Like Guehi, beyond the pair of them being too close for Slovakia’s goal, there wasn’t too much to report.

Kieran Trippier
Unfortunately for Trippier, he was never the answer at left-back, but there was no alternative in the squad. As a natural right footer, he is never going to solve the balance issue, but defensively he wasn’t at his best in this game either.

Slovakia gained control of the game early on by hitting the wide areas, and their goal came from movement to the left of the area. Trippier was an easy target for any opponent, and his place in the team – if he is fit – may be in doubt.

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Declan Rice
Rice was solid throughout but hasn’t dominated games like we know he can. Slovakia were able to break the lines a few times and get a sight of goal.

Still absolutely crucial for England going forward.

Kobbie Mainoo
The best English player on the pitch. Early on in the match, as his team began tentatively, the teenager was a calming presence who got a foot on the ball.

Every pass was accurate, forward and in space. On a day when the lack of changes coming from the touchline was painfully evident, Mainoo stood as evidence that freshening things up earlier and playing with a bit more freedom may well have led to a different outcome.

Phil Foden
Foden has never been a left winger, and it is inexplicable that Gareth Southgate has continued to play him there in every game. The biggest issue with this side – and there are many – is how dysfunctional the left flank has been.

There has been no evidence Foden can influence the game out wide, but flashes of quality more central. Still, no change; England kept making the pitch narrower and expecting different results, while Anthony Gordon sat on the bench.

Jude Bellingham
Clearly incredibly frustrated for most of the game, but made the ultimate difference in spectacular fashion at the end. After a stunning start to the tournament against Serbia, he has looked tired. There was a weight on his shoulders, but he didn’t shirk and was one of England’s brighter players, admittedly without too much competition.

Everything England did in an attacking sense in normal time looked unbalanced; something felt off. Bellingham is a complete midfielder who can do whatever job asked of him. It is criminal that he wasn’t dropped deeper, not only to exert more control, but to allow Foden to play centrally.

Bukayo Saka
The one player in from the start who wanted to commit defenders and get crosses in. Saka was frustrated at going into left-back but that move, enforced as it was, created balance for the first time all summer and made room for decisive changes in attack.

Harry Kane
There was no difference in a positive sense for Kane in this game compared to the group stage – until extra time. He was as slow, passive and laborious as he has been throughout. Injuries at the end of the season with Bayern Munich may be a factor, but tactically, England never got the best out of him either. Yet ultimately, it didn’t matter.

He dropped too deep all the time and wasn’t as proactive in the area as he needed to be. His header wide from Foden’s free-kick cross and shot over after Rice hit the post will still haunt him. Even if he isn’t 100% fit, he needed to offer much more overall, but who cares?!

READ NEXTEngland ‘granny’ Kane leads Euro 2024 disappointing XI including Liverpool midfielder

Substitutes

Cole Palmer (on 68th minute)
Made a difference instantly by running at the Slovakian left-back and firing the ball into Bellingham when he came on. The most frustrating thing about Southgate’s conservatism is that the players on his bench have by and large created the difference in the game when called upon.

Eberechi Eze (on 84th minute)
A few nice touches as usual, but his best contribution was putting Peter Pekarik off as he went close to an extra-time equaliser.

Ivan Toney (on 94th minute in normal time)
Given Kane’s obvious struggles throughout the tournament, the fact Ivan Toney hasn’t been called upon earlier is curious. He did his job as a substitute in extra time, helping change the flow while playing up front with the captain. Almost wrapped it up with a shot after a great Palmer counter-attack.

His flick on for the eventual winner showed excellent awareness, as did holding the ball up and winning clever fouls. Going forward, he simply must be more involved.

Ezri Konsa (on 105th minute)
Came on at left back and didn’t do much wrong. Interesting selection ahead of Joe Gomez, though.

Conor Gallagher (on 105th minute)
Kept things solid to help England over the line late on.

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