In England's most important qualifying fixture on their road to Russia, Marcus Rashford proved his class with a superb display after an early error.
Having gifted the Slovaks a priceless third-minute goal, Rashford demonstrated his courage and bravery to claim an assist and went on to score the winner in a man of the match performance.
The United forward replaced Raheem Sterling in Gareth Southgate's line-up and again showed, aged 19, that he's made of sterner stuff than Sterling and many of his other more senior colleagues.
Too often, those in an England shirt would've been gripped by fear after such a mistake, but Rashford recovered from that poor start to show temperament and character - as well as the very obvious quality he possesses.
Rather than going into hiding and letting anxiety get the better of him, Rashford kept looking for the ball and took responsibility.
He continued to run fearlessly at the Slovakian defence and was willing to make bold decisions in a personal bid to drag England back into the match.
Barely 60 seconds after he lost possession and allowed Stanislav Lobotka to score, he nutmegged his way to the edge of the visitors area and lashed an effort narrowly wide.
Maybe it was hearing that United legend Ryan Giggs had compared him to Thierry Henry, or simply the attitude of youth, but Rashford stood up to be counted and was the man who made the difference.
Quite why Southgate felt that Rashford - at his best when coming inside off the left - needed to start on the right of a four man midfield - is anyone's guess.
While Rashford learnt a harsh early lesson, however, so did his manager and the 19-year-old (he doesn't turn 20 until October), was eventually moved into his favourite position and both he, and England, reaped the rewards.
Rashford's quick thinking corner kick led to Eric Dier's swept finish for the leveller and - only two minutes into the second half - he showcased his full repertoire of tricks.
Dele Alli should have done better from his clever flick, but, now with the wind in his sails, it was no surprise that it was Rashford who gave England their precious lead.
Instead of opting for an easier pass, he let fly from 25 yards and the ball whistled beyond Slovakian goalkeeper Martin Dubravka for a lead that the hosts were not to relinquish.
Rashford left the field late on to a standing ovation and a hug from his manager, and there's no doubt that there will be another one from impressed United boss Jose Mourinho.
Post a Comment