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2018 World Cup Qualifying - UEFA, Group Stage

England battle to draw in Slovenia as Joe Hart stars

England needed a fine display from goalkeeper Joe Hart to scrape a goalless draw away to Slovenia in their 2018 World Cup qualification clash in Group F.

England, starting without Wayne Rooney in caretaker boss Gareth Southgate's second game in charge, suffered their first setback after winning their opening two games.

The travelling supporters chanted Rooney's name during the warm-up -- in sharp contrast to the boos he received during Saturday's win over Malta at Wembley -- and England started on the front foot.

However, Slovenia had a golden opportunity on 10 minutes to take the lead when Eric Dier's poor backpass allowed Roman Bezjak through and, although Hart came out to make a positive intervention, England failed to clear and Jasmin Kurtic curled a shot against the post.

England regained their composure but, other than a Daniel Sturridge penalty appeal that was waved away, Southgate's side offered little in attack in a tame first half.

Slovenia threatened again at the start of the second half as they broke through the England defence, but Josip Ilicic picked out Theo Walcott with a poor cutback. Hart was then forced to make two saves in quick succession, superbly clawing a Kurtic header against the underside of the crossbar on the second occasion.

England continued to look second best and a further poor backpass, this time from Henderson, forced Hart into another fine intervention as Ilicic raced through.

Rooney was eventually introduced as a replacement for Dele Alli on 73 minutes and England had chances through Danny Rose and Daniel Sturridge soon afterwards, while the Manchester United forward also curled an effort just wide from the edge of the area.

Jesse Lingard then sent a ferocious shot on goal on 82 minutes but was denied by a good low save from Jan Oblak.

There were few chances in the final moments as England claimed a draw that leaves them top of the table, two points clear of their hosts.

WC Qual - UEFA News