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Rashford's strike sets England on course to qualify for 2018 World Cup

Marcus Rashford's goal won it for England. Photo: PA

Marcus Rashford's attitude was as impressive as his aptitude as the forward helped England come from behind and fire Gareth Southgate's men to the brink of World Cup qualification.

Friday's flattering 4-0 win in Malta may have frustrated but this crunch Group F clash was on course to end in disaster after the visitors, ready to usurp the Three Lions as leaders, went ahead inside three minutes.

Stanislav Lobotka stunned Wembley after brutally punishing an error by Rashford, but the 19-year-old rallied rather than wilted, setting up Eric Dier before stylishly wrapping up a 2-1 win to leave England on the cusp of next summer's tournament in Russia.

Southgate's men now boast a five-point cushion over second-place Slovakia after the comeback win that stirred most of the 67,823 in attendance, just days after an underwhelming display led some travelling fans to turn on their team in Malta.

Rashford celebrates with Dier. Credit: PA

It was not all straightforward on Monday, though, as Lobotka struck early for the confident visitors, who England struggled to open up due to a worrying lack of creativity and guile.

The performance in last year's ignominious Euro 2016 exit to Iceland came to mind, but the Three Lions eventually kicked into life and drew level as Dier impressively turned in Rashford's smart corner.

The Manchester United attacker could have stuttered having gifted Slovakia their goal, but he grew as the match wore on and fired home from outside the box to secure a crucial three points.

Things could have been so much different had Kyle Walker's clumsy challenge brought a red card late in the first half, but Southgate's men will not care a jot after tightening their grip on Group F.

England last lost a qualifier eight years ago and a little complacency appeared to impact their start.

Rashford, one of two changes, saw his naivety brutally exposed when inexplicably deciding to dribble inside his own third, only to be halted by Lobotka.

Slovakia went ahead inside three minutes. Credit: PA

The talented Slovakian midfielder laid it off to Adam Nemec and, sensing his chance, burst beyond Rashford's meek attempt to track back, meeting the return pass and prodding past Joe Hart to stun Wembley.

Rashford tried to make immediate amends but Slovakia continued to threaten, emboldened by their early goal.

Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all had attempts at the other end, some worse than others, with groans becoming audible as England toiled.

A rare moment of foresight got the fans on their feet, though, as Rashford slid through Kane. While Jan Durica's challenge denied the England striker, the set piece that swiftly followed brought a much-needed leveller.

Rashford's previous corners had failed to make Slovakia sweat, but his smart low ball to the near post caught them on the hop as Dier hit a first-time strike into the top corner.

The 37th-minute goal brought renewed confidence as Ryan Bertrand stung the palms of Martin Dubravka, who did well to tip a hopeful Rashford strike around the post.

How England's group looks after that win. Credit: ITV Sport

There was still time for a scare, though, as Vladimir Weiss turned Gary Cahill all too easily and headed towards goal. Walker relied on his pace to get back and managed to stop him, although Weiss was rightly aggrieved as the right-back should have been sent off for getting man rather than ball as last man.

After the break England captain Jordan Henderson dragged wide and Rashford's quick feet earned him an opportunity to test Dubravka, who then denied Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Alli was unable to bundle home after Kane brought a fine stop from an acute angle, with the Slovakia goalkeeper matching his opposite number's stop moments earlier.

Failing to heed first-half warnings, England seemed too relaxed as a neat attack ended with a Nemec - at the far post - rifling a volley that Hart did well to push away.

That attempt came on a rare voyage forwards for Slovakia, who bowed to the home side's pressure in the 59th minute.

Alli read Robert Mak's pass from the touchline as England launched a break from inside Slovakia's final third. Rashford ended up with the ball and took aim from 20 yards, hitting a low strike into the far corner.

The relief was palpable as Southgate celebrated, with Alli and Rashford having attempts to increase their advantage in-between Tomas Hubocan's miss.

A smattering of jeers for Oxlade-Chamberlain and his replacement Raheem Sterling was not in keeping with a positive second-half display, which ended with man-of-the-match Rashford being taken off to a standing ovation as England kept control.