England squeak into 2nd round

Defoe's first half goal enough for three lions


With a goal from Jermain Defoe, England were able to top Slovenia 1-0 and managed to grab three points to qualify for the second round of the World Cup, preventing what could have been a flop of a tournament for The Three Lions.

Defoe, who usually scores after coming off the bench, grabbed just his second goal as a starter. However, the lack of understanding between Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard in the midfield continues to be evident and Wayne Rooney has yet to find the goal.

Slovenia, on the other hand, are out of the World Cup after the US beat Algeria in the other Group C game held simultaneously.

In the first half, it would be Slovenia who would threaten first. In the 7th minute, Valter Birsa ran down the right flank and cut in, unleashing a relatively weak shot that England keeper David James handled without a problem.

The next 16 minutes saw only two attempts on target, both long-range effots by England that failed to trouble Slovenia goalie Samir Handanovic. But it essentially all England from there on out.

The first goal of the match would come in the 23rd minute, when James Milner sent a cross in to Jermain Defoe from the right flank. Defoe, who had made a nice diagonal run to sneak in past the Slovene defenders, put a foot on the ball and sent the shot straight to Handanovic, who couldn’t react fast enough and saw the ball deflect off his hands and into the top netting.

At the half-hour mark, Defoe once again troubled Slovenia’s backline. After receiving a pass from Steven Gerrard at the top of the box, Defoe took a couple of steps and tried at the goal. Handanovic made a diving save, but the ball ended up at Rooney’s feet, who passed to Gerrard. The Liverpool midfielder tried at goal himself, but Handanovic got a hand on it and recovered in time to trap the goal-creeping ball.

In the second half, not 30 seconds had passed when England midfielder Frank Lampard sent a headed pass to Defoe, who whiffed in front of goal and saw the ball go wide of the target.

England would go on to have two clear chances on goal within a span of 60 seconds. In the 58th minute, John Terry headed a corner, only to be denied by Handanovic on the line. Then, just a minute later, Lampard chipped a pass over the defense and onto Rooney, who turned and whipped a shot straight onto the post.

In the 68’ second half, Slovenia had their best chances of the match. First, Milivoje Novakovic received a headed pass in the box and let loose a shot that was blocked by a sliding Terry. The rebound ended up at Zlatko Dedic’s feet, but his effort was blocked by right back Glen Johnson. Finally, Birsa had a try at goal, but his shot went wide of the target.

Just near the end of the second half, a Slovenia attack almost ended with dreadful consequences for England had it not been for some key defensive stops. Tim Matavz laid off a backheel pass to Dedic, who’s shot was blocked by Johnson. The rebound ended up back at Matavz’s feet, but England center back Matthew Upson slid just in time to clear the ball out of the danger zone and keep England in the World Cup.

With the win, England finished second in Group C and will now face the winner of Group D to be decided later today.

Scoring Summary:

ENG -- Defoe, 23’

Lineups:

Slovenia -- Handanovic; Jokic, Cesar, Suler, Brecko; Kirm (Matavz, 79’), Radosavljevic, Koren, Birsa; Novakovic, Ljubijankic (Dedic, 62’)

England -- James; A. Cole, Upson, Terry, Johnson; Gerrard, Barry, Lampard, Milner; Rooney (J. Cole, 72’), Defoe (Heskey, 86’)

Join the Debate! MLSsoccer.com's "ExtraTime Radio" is LIVE every day during the World Cup, 5-7 pm ET. Call in at 888-MLS-GOAL.