England 2-1 Slovakia (AET): Bellingham and Kane rescue Southgate with Switzerland waiting

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Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane celebrate for England
Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane celebrate for England

England narrowly avoided a disastrous exit from Euro 2024 as goals from Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane edged them past Slovakia and saved Gareth Southgate.

A goal by Ivan Schranz in the 25th minute sent England on course for an elimination at least as humiliating as the one which came at the hands of Iceland in the last 16 eight years ago.

Southgate took over in the aftermath of that tournament following the one-game reign of Sam Allardyce – which just so happened to come against Slovakia.

England repeated that single-goal victory from September 2016 but that tells a fraction of a story which involved them scoring their only two shots on target, the first coming in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage-time.

Jude Bellingham’s overhead kick sent the game into extra-time, with Harry Kane nodding home within a minute of the restart to book England a place in the quarter-finals against Switzerland.

Southgate has overseen vast improvements during his time as England manager, but the pressure and scrutiny will be as hot as ever after squeaking into the last eight and onto his 100th match at the helm: a daunting quarter-final against Switzerland

England’s manager received a mixed reception before a ball was kicked at the Veltins Arena, where card-happy referee Umut Meler booked Marc Guehi inside three minutes.

The centre-back will miss the Switzerland clash as a result, with Kobbie Mainoo, making his first competitive start aged 19, and Bellingham, who turned 21 on Saturday, soon collecting yellows.

Francesco Calzona’s Slovakia seemingly smelt blood after England won Group C in such unconvincing fashion. David Hancko’s early cross-shot flew across the face of goal and Kieran Trippier made a key clearance after Guehi threw himself in front of a Lukas Haraslin effort.

The boys in blue continued to play like they were the Euro 2024 favourites and took the lead in the 25th minute.

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Bold play ended with David Strelec showing expert awareness to slip in Schranz, who kept his cool as Guehi – who lost the initial aerial ball – failed to get back and stop him slipping his shot past Jordan Pickford.

That goal darkened England’s mood, as did the team’s response. Jeers greeted Southgate’s side slowing down play and passing backwards, with patience on the pitch not shared by those in the stands.

There were also boos at the break from fans that had previously shown their anger after the draws with Denmark and Slovenia.

But Southgate’s men looked to have levelled four minutes after the restart, with Trippier’s low ball across the box turned in by Phil Foden.

The forward – who temporarily left the camp this week for the birth of his third child – saw celebrations cut short as the VAR ruled him offside.

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England now had more bite in their attack but they so nearly served a Slovakia a second goal as Strelec met a loose free-kick with a strike from the halfway line that beat the advanced Pickford and bobbled wide.

That was a huge let-off for England, just as already-booked Juraj Kucka’s foul on Mainoo was one for Slovakia.

Foden hit that resulting free-kick into the wall and there were cheers when Cole Palmer came on, although few expected to see Saka moved to left-back even if replaced Trippier was limping.

England continued to probe as they sought a leveller that should have arrived in the 78th minute, but Kane somehow managed to head Foden’s free-kick wide.

Declan Rice hit a post from 25 yards three minutes later as the Euro 2020 runners-up plugged away for an equaliser that looked set to evade them as the match entered six minutes of stoppage time.

But in the fifth of those, a moment of magic sparked bedlam.

Guehi held his ground under pressure and flicked on a throw-in, with Bellingham hitting a brilliant overhead kick past Martin Dubravka.

The strike got England out of jail and took a tie that looked beyond them into extra time, which was not even a minute old when they went ahead.

Eberechi Eze’s shot into the ground was smartly headed on by fellow substitute Ivan Toney and Kane nodded home at the far post in front of the England section.

Southgate’s side dropped back after scoring and dug in as exhausted Slovakia tried to find an equaliser, with Peter Pekarik threatening from close range just before the break.

England’s goalscorers were withdrawn and Slovakia could not find a leveller, with the final whistle bringing ‘Sweet Caroline’ and sweet relief.

More to follow.

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