Bellingham and Kane help England come from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 in the Round of 16 at Euro 2024

After Jude Bellingham’s stoppage-time equaliser, captain Harry Kane secured a 2-1 victory for England in extra time against Slovakia, earning them a quarter-final spot at Euro 2024.

England goals: Bellingham (90+4′), Kane (92′) and Slovakia: Schranz (25′)

Bellingham and Kane help England come from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 in the Round of 16 at Euro 2024

England is one of the most controversial teams in this year’s tournament. Despite being undefeated and topping their group, they still faced heavy criticism from fans for their pragmatic style of play.

Entering the round of 16 against underdogs Slovakia, Gareth Southgate’s squad was expected to change their approach, to be less calculating and more committed. But virtually nothing changed. They had 63% of the possession but didn’t create much danger. They even let Ivan Schranz score in the middle of the first half, leading to pressure and often futile attempts against Slovakia’s disciplined defence.

Just when it seemed Gareth Southgate’s men were following reigning champions Italy out of the tournament, Jude Bellingham became the hero in the seventh minute of stoppage time, saving the Euro 2020 runners-up from an early exit. From a throw-in by Kyle Walker, center-back Marc Guehi headed the ball back. Bellingham dropped back a beat and then hooked the ball into the net, leaving goalkeeper Martin Dubravka rooted to the spot as the ball found the right corner of the goal.

Without this goal, Bellingham would have certainly been criticised when the match ended. The Real Madrid midfielder had a lacklustre performance in the two halves, moving too wide and losing possession several times. However, at the crucial moment, Bellingham’s star quality shone through. This was his second goal at Euro 2024, following a single goal in the win over Serbia in the group stage. After scoring, Bellingham ran to the corner flag, said something to the camera, and then performed his familiar goal celebration – spreading his arms wide.

The equaliser relieved England’s psychological pressure. Right at the start of extra time, Harry Kane headed in to give England a 2-1 lead. This goal marked the contribution of substitutes. Eberechi Eze’s volley turned into an assist for Ivan Toney to head the ball to Kane. Southgate was rewarded for keeping Kane on the pitch, even though, like Bellingham, the England captain had been a huge disappointment.

Kane’s best chance in the two main halves came in the 78th minute, from a free-kick by Phil Foden. The ball found Kane unmarked, but he headed wide of the post. This was one of the few times Foden and Kane found each other. Earlier, in the 50th minute, Kane’s drop back created space for Kieran Trippier to run and cross to Foden to tap into an empty net. But the goal was disallowed for offside. Among other missed opportunities by England was Declan Rice’s long-range shot that hit the post in the 81st minute.

Despite the comeback’s significant imprint of Southgate, the England coach once again showed his tactical inflexibility. Only changing one position, with Kobbie Mainoo starting in place of Conor Gallagher, England seemed unprepared for Slovakia’s proactive approach and readiness for an open game. They were flustered when pressed and narrowly escaped several times. Lukas Haraslin was a nightmare for Kyle Walker as he twice beat the defender and rattled Jordan Pickford’s goal.

Slovakia’s courage helped them score first. From Peter Pekarik’s long pass, Juraj Kucka beat Guehi in the air, enabling David Strelec to get the ball before the penalty area. He then slipped the ball to Schranz running up the right wing. Guehi was close behind but could only make a light contact, helplessly watching the Slovakian striker beat Pickford after a brief stumble.

This was the first time England trailed at Euro 2024, and their reaction in this situation only increased fans’ worries. Before Bellingham’s equaliser, the “Three Lions” didn’t have a single shot on Slovakia’s goal. They even had fewer shots than their opponent (9 vs 10), despite having 64% possession throughout the match. England’s dominance was probably only reflected in the number of corner kicks (9 vs 1), but they lacked a solid plan to maximise these set-piece situations.

This victory helped England reach the quarter-finals in four consecutive major tournaments for the first time in history. They will face Switzerland on July 6th. This is also the first confirmed quarter-final fixture at Euro 2024. Slovakia provided an exciting match, but a stoppage-time goal knocked them out. Despite having the oldest squad, Slovakia always played with intense pressing. This style of play drained their stamina, so after falling behind in extra time, Slovakia couldn’t reverse the situation despite having plenty of time.

England vs Slovakia line-ups

England line-up (4-2-3-1): Pickford; Walker, Stones, Guehi, Trippier (Palmer 66′); Rice, Mainoo (Eze 84′); Saka, Bellingham (Konsa 106′), Foden; Kane (Gallagher 106′)

Slovakia line-up (4-3-3): Dubravka; Pekarik (Tupta 109′), Vavro, Skriniar, Hancko; Kucka (Bero 81′), Lobotka, Duda (Benes 81′); Schranz, Haraslin (Suslov 61′), Strelec (Bozenik 61′)

⚽️ UEFA Euro 1960 to 2021 with 16 tournaments and 10 national champions

⏩ Germany won the Euro 3 times (1972 – 1980 – 1996)

⏩ Spain won the Euro 3 times (1964 – 2008 – 2012)

⏩ France won the Euro 2 times (1984 – 2000)

⏩ Italy won the Euro 2 times (1968 – 2020)

⏩ Soviet Union won the Euro once in 1960

⏩ Czechoslovakia won the Euro once in 1976

⏩ Netherlands won the Euro once in 1988

⏩ Denmark won the Euro once in 1992

⏩ Greece won the Euro once in 2004

⏩ Portugal won the Euro once in 2016

With the participation of the strongest European teams according to the FIFA ranking on February 15, 2024 such as France (2nd) – England (3rd) – Belgium (4th) – Netherlands (6th) – Portugal (7th) – Spain (8th) – Italy (9th) – Croatia (10th) and bright stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappé, Harry Kane, Romelu Lukaku to promising young talents, Euro 2024 promises to deliver top-level and dramatic matches.

EURO 2024 will take place in Germany from June 14 to July 14, 2024 in 10 cities in Germany with 24 participating teams. The teams are divided into 6 groups to select the first and second teams in each group, and the 4 third-placed teams with the best performance to get a ticket to the knock-out round. The opening match is scheduled for June 14 between host Germany and Scotland.

⚽️ Detailed EURO 2024 match groups:

⚽️ Group A: Germany, Scotland, Hungary, Switzerland

⚽️ Group B: Spain, Croatia, Italy, Albania

⚽️ Group C: England, Denmark, Serbia, Slovenia

⚽️ Group D: Poland, France, Netherlands, Austria

⚽️ Group E: Slovakia, Romania, Belgium, Ukraine

⚽️ Group F: Portugal, Turkey, Czech Republic, Georgia

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