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England 3, Slovenia 1: Henderson Red-Faced, But Lions Win

Three of Liverpool's English internationals got the start today in the win against Slovenia in a match that saw the best and worst of their performances.

Shaun Botterill

England 3: Rooney 59' (pen.), Welbeck 66', 72'
Slovenia 1: Henderson OG 58'

There were starts for three of the four Liverpool players called up for England duty, with Jordan Henderson and Adam Lallana starting ahead of Jack Wilshere in a diamond midfield and Raheem Sterling at the tip. It was the type of selection most have been waiting for at the club level, and it was downright progressive from Roy Hodgson to utilize Lallana in a shuttling role. Could it work at Liverpool? We'll apparently never know.

What we do know is that it worked to mixed results early for England, with each of Henderson, Lallana, and Sterling slightly above average. For Henderson it was an untethered role on the right side of the midfield, while Lallana looked to get forward in possession and constantly moving without the ball and Sterling tried to get forward at pace across the forward line; in short, all showed glimpses of the types of performances that most have expected from them in Liverpool shirts, though Sterling seemed off yet again as his dip in form continued.

On the whole it was a disjointed opening half with little to speak of in the final third, however, and that the first half ended 0-0 was more than fitting. The second started as much of the same, though it quickly turned sour for one Liverpool player.

Henderson, who had been struggling for much of the match, found himself in good position to clear danger just before the hour mark when Slovenia sent a ball in to the box... but somehow instead of sending the ball away, his header turned it around Joe Hart and in to the England net for an own goal. It was definitely not one of the finer moments of Henderson's career, but it also proved to be the crack that broke the dam in what had been a very dull match before his embarrassment.

Wayne Rooney won a penalty on England's very first possession after the Three Lions went down, and hammered it home without breaking a sweat. Just minutes later, Lallana and Sterling worked a lovely combination down the right side of the pitch for England before the ball wound up with Danny Welbeck, whose mishit shot caught Samir Handanovic off-balance and put England ahead for good.

Despite requiring that healthy dose of luck to take the lead, England left no doubt on their next goal. Sterling put on a gorgeous bit of play when he ran a 1-2 with Welbeck, leaving the Arsenal striker in such perfect position that he couldn't possibly screw up the finish. He didn't, and England were able to see out the last twenty minutes of the match without much issue and Slovenia struggled to put together any kind of reply to England's 15 minutes of soul-crushing dominance.

While Henderson struggled, Lallana was very impressive on the day. Sterling started the match looking just as fatigued as he has for some time now, but dug deep in the second half to help put England over the top. The result puts England in a very comfortable position atop Group E, sitting with a perfect twelve points after four matches. They've got a six point lead on Slovenia and Lithuania, though the latter side could close that gap some if they manage at least a draw against Switzerland later.

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