Bellingham’s wonder goal saves England before Kane nets winner

Jude Bellingham scores vs Slovakia
Jude Bellingham scores vs Slovakia (PC: X)

England came within a minute of elimination from Euro 2024, before a stunning goal by Jude Bellingham gave them a fresh lease of life. Harry Kane then netted the winner in extra-time which knocked out Slovakia in a round of 16 match played in Gelsenkirchen. England won 2-1 after trailing 0-1 until the fifth minute of added-on time.

The clock had less than a minute when England got a throw-in from the right. There was chaos inside the Slovak box with a number of players from both teams inside the area. A stray ball came towards Bellingham, who essayed an overhead kick which rocketed into the goal. Rated highly by pundits and the public, the Real Madrid star showed what the talk is all about.

Looking for their first win in the knockout stages of a major tournament, Slovakia did not have the heart to come back after that dramatic equaliser. Their defence fell apart, which allowed Kane to plant in a simple header from close range in the opening minutes of extra-time. For the remainder of the match, they did well to thwart what Slovakia threw at them. That took England into the quarter-finals, but only just. It was not a convincing win by any means.

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Kobe Mainoo in action vs Slovakia, Euro 2024
Kobe Mainoo in action vs Slovakia, Euro 2024 (PC: X)

Slovakia were the better side in the first half and took the lead through Ivan Schranz in the 25th minute. The underdogs showed superior organisation and greater spirit. They put pressure on England and didn’t hesitate to venture up the park when the situation permitted. It didn’t look like a match featuring a side ranked fifth in the world against another ranked 45th.

When England upped the ante in the second half, the Slovaks defended with numbers. There was no easy passage towards their penalty area. However, as the match progressed, they made a crucial mistake by defending from too low a line. This meant that England could camp just outside the Slovak box, which is risky for a defending side. One error in judgement or marking could have fatal consequences and that’s what happened.

That doesn’t demean Bellingham’s effort, though. He showed tremendous presence of mind, reflexes and skill to execute that kick with perfection under enormous pressure. It would have been match over and goodbye England had he not made flawless connection. A special effort from a special player, due to which the Three Lions live another day. Switzerland in the quarter-finals are expected to ask tougher questions.

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