England v Slovenia talking points

KANE'S APPETITE FOR GOALS

On a red-hot streak this season, Harry Kane revealed this week that he uses a personal chef to ensure his meals are tailored to enhance his performance.

Though well-fed at home, the Tottenham striker was starved of service until the third minute of stoppage time when he stretched to turn in Kyle Walker's cross.

It was the 24-year-old's first real sight of goal for the entire 90 minutes and took him to 14 goals in his last nine games for club and country.

RISING STOCK OF RASHFORD

Having emerged as a dynamic force for Manchester United this season, Marcus Rashford looks capable of becoming a genuine game changer for England as well.

The 19-year-old was England's lone ray of hope for much of the match as his pace on the flanks unhinged Slovenia's rearguard.

Having won a free kick with a surging run, Rashford picked himself up and almost broke the deadlock with an audacious long-range effort that forced Jan Oblak into a sprawling save.

He went even closer when his lofted shot was cleared off the line by Rajko Rotman in the second half.

CHANGE DEAD-BALL DUTIES

Kyle Walker has yet to score for England and has not found the net in two years. Yet the Manchester City full-back summed up a first half to forget when he blasted over the bar with a direct free kick from 20 metres out.

With Kane and Rashford on the pitch, England had better options.

HART NOT A NAILED-ON NO. 1

Joe Hart drew level with Gordon Banks' 74 caps on Thursday, leaving him joint-third in the list of England goalkeepers and only one game behind David Seaman's tally.

He claimed the Man of the Match award, but a changing of the guard feels close. The West Ham United loanee did well to thwart Tim Matavz near the end, but there were signs of nerves.

He had been unsettled by Josip Ilicic's early charge to the byeline, when his attempt to grasp the ball might have resulted in a penalty, and an edgy display was summed up by three grasps to control Bojan Jokic's header.

Jack Butland is likely to start in Vilnius. If the Stoke man seizes his chance, Hart's status could be shifting.

THE OX NOT AT THE RACES

Not for the first time this season, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, also known as the "Ox", failed to prove his doubters wrong before being put out of his misery when he was taken off in the 64th minute.

He has struggled badly since his £35 million (S$62 million) move from Arsenal to Liverpool just before the transfer deadline.

The 24-year-old fared no better on the right wing for England, lacking the drive and desire to penetrate Slovenia's massed defence.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2017, with the headline 'England v Slovenia talking points'. Print Edition | Subscribe