LONDON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - England closed in on qualification for next year’s World Cup finals as Marcus Rashford’s first competitive international goal earned them a 2-1 win over closest Group F rivals Slovakia at Wembley on Monday.
Slovakia, who began the night only two points adrift of Gareth Southgate’s England, stunned their hosts in the third minute when Stanislav Lobotka punished some slack defending to prod the opener past keeper Joe Hart.
England were wobbling but midfielder Eric Dier calmed the home jitters with a well-taken 37th minute equaliser.
Manchester United youngster Rashford, who had been at fault for Slovakia’s opener, then showed why he was selected ahead of Raheem Sterling with a stunning 59th minute effort, beating Martin Dubravka with a fierce drive.
Victory put England five points ahead of second-placed Slovakia with two matches remaining and means they are almost certain of at least a playoff spot. (Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)