(Wednesday, June 23rd)
Final Score: England 1, Slovenia 0
Port Elizabeth, South Africa (Sports Network) - A first-half goal from Jermain Defoe was enough to give England a 1-0 win over Slovenia at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Wednesday in the final match of Group C play for both teams, allowing the Three Lions to advance to the next round.
Defoe volleyed home a James Milner cross in the 23rd minute to help England finish with five points, along with the United States, which got a late goal from Landon Donovan to beat Algeria, 1-0, in the group's other match.
Slovenia finishes the tournament with four points, one short of a place in the knockout round.
"I think we played quite well. We had our chances, but didn't score - and England scored from one of theirs," Slovenia defender Marko Suler said. "I'm pleased that we kept a big team like England on its toes for the 90 minutes; we just didn't have any luck."
The USA wins the group on goal difference, while England finishes second, meaning that England will play Germany on Sunday, while the Americans get Ghana on Saturday.
England's play was much more positive from the start after two subpar games, but Slovenia had the first real good chance when Andraz Kirm hit a powerful shot at goalkeeper David James, who was able to parry the effort.
But just two minutes later, Milner delivered a good cross to the front of goal for Defoe, who held off his defender and volleyed the ball on target from six yards.
The ball was hit right at goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, but he couldn't react quickly enough to prevent the shot from slipping through his hands.
Frank Lampard could have doubled the lead minutes later when Handanovic parried a cross into his path at the edge of the penalty area, but he fired over the empty net.
Wayne Rooney provided a good set up for Steven Gerrard inside the area and he forced a diving save from the goalie before Defoe wasted a good chance early in the second half when his flick missed the target from seven yards.
England had a goal ruled out for offsides, and John Terry's headed effort at the back post from a corner kick was kept out by Handanovic shortly after.
The keeper did just enough to prevent Rooney from scoring in the 58th minute when he got a hand to the ball and deflected it onto the post after Rooney beat the offsides trap, while a scramble in the England box gave Slovenia a rare chance that Valter Birsa wasted by missing the net from 14 yards.
England was hesitant to commit players forward and nearly paid for it when a loose ball fell to Zlatko Dedic near the penalty spot in stoppage time, but Matthew Upson's last-ditch challenge prevented the Slovenia substitute from getting off a shot as the Three Lions held on to advance.
"This was the team that I know. We played together with spirit; we fought together and I am really, really happy with the result," said a relieved England manager Fabio Capello. "I'm also happy that I found the team that I knew from the qualifiers. This team can go forward now. All the team, the coaches; our minds are free. We can go forward without fear, without everything."
06/23 16:23:40 ET