England vs Slovakia: Result and reaction as Bellingham and Kane save mediocre match in dramatic win

Published Jul 1, 2024


England escaped an embarrassing last-16 exit at Euro 2024, thanks to Jude Bellingham's overhead kick before Harry Kane struck in extra time for a 2-1 win over Slovakia on Sunday. The Three Lions, hyped as one of the favourites to end a 58-year wait for major tournament glory, looked set to go out with a whimper to Ivan Schranz's 25th-minute goal.

However, Bellingham's moment of inspiration five minutes into six added on in stoppage time breathed new life into Gareth Southgate's reign as England boss. Kane then headed in just a minute into extra time to set up a quarter-final meeting with Switzerland on Saturday.

"That's the desire and the attitude from the boys. It looked tough for a second there but you keep going ... Jude does what Jude does and what an unbelievable goal," Kane said.

From the outset, England found themselves on the back foot against a relentless Slovakian side. Slovakia’s aggressive pressing and quick counter-attacks put immense pressure on Gareth Southgate’s team. This strategy paid off in the 25th minute when Ivan Schranz capitalized on a swift counter-attack to give Slovakia a deserved lead. England’s defence was caught off-guard, and Schranz's precise finish left goalkeeper Jordan Pickford with no chance.

England’s response was frantic as they searched for an equaliser. Declan Rice came closest, hitting the post with a long-range effort that had the Slovakian goalkeeper beaten. Despite their efforts, England struggled to break down Slovakia’s organised defence, and it appeared they were heading out of the tournament in disappointing fashion.

Bellingham’s Moment of Magic

As the match entered injury time, England’s hopes seemed all but extinguished. However, in the dying moments of the game, Jude Bellingham produced a moment of sheer brilliance. A high cross into the box was met by Bellingham, who executed an overhead kick with precision and power, sending the ball into the back of the net. This was England’s first shot on target, and it couldn’t have come at a more crucial moment. The goal sparked wild celebrations among the England players and fans, who sensed a dramatic turnaround.

Kane Seals the Victory

With the match pushed into extra time, England carried the momentum from Bellingham’s equaliser. Barely a minute into extra time, Harry Kane rose above the Slovakian defenders to head home a pinpoint cross, giving England the lead for the first time in the match. Kane’s goal proved to be the decisive blow, and despite Slovakia’s efforts to find another equaliser, England held firm to secure the win.

Post-Match Reactions

Harry Kane, reflecting on the match and Bellingham’s crucial goal, described it as “the best in England’s history”. Kane’s praise for his young teammate highlighted the significance of Bellingham’s strike, which not only saved England’s tournament, but also showcased the midfielder’s immense talent and composure under pressure.

Gareth Southgate, while acknowledging the team’s overall poor performance, praised the resilience and character shown by his players to claw back a victory from the jaws of defeat. He admitted that improvements were needed, but expressed confidence that the team could rise to the occasion against Switzerland in the quarter-finals.

Looking Ahead

England’s escape act against Slovakia serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictability and drama that comes with tournament football. The Three Lions will need to raise their game significantly as they prepare to face Switzerland, a team brimming with confidence after their impressive win over Italy. With the likes of Bellingham and Kane in their ranks, England will hope to build on their dramatic victory and advance further in the competition.

As the Euro 2024 quarter-finals approach, England’s fans will be hoping for more moments of magic and less nerve-racking performances. The clash against Switzerland promises to be another stern test, but if England can harness the fighting spirit displayed against Slovakia, they might just keep their dream of lifting the trophy alive.