The 2018 World Cup Qualifiers in Europe continued on Monday but only two countries involving Manchester United players saw action.
How did Armenia and England fared this Monday? Both teams faced key matches on their quest to make it to Russia, but only one of them was happy with the outcome after the final whistle.
Armenia – Henrik Mkhitaryan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan did what he could with Armenia against a stronger side such as Denmark. but he could not lead the side to what would have been a massive upset. The Manchester United playmaker was Armenia’s lone attacking midfielder and the team started winning thanks to an early goal, but they failed to hold on. Denmark cruised the rest of the way and ended winning 4-1 thanks to a hat-trick from Thomas Delaney.
Mkhitaryan was mostly a non-factor. He did not attempt a single shot on target, and only contributed with two key passes and one unsuccessful dribble. Armenia was forced to play on a defensive stance most of the game, and that limited the impact Mkhitaryan could have had in the game.
The loss ended Armenia’s hopes to reach the 2018 World Cup. With two games left on the schedule, Armenia have six points and could only reach 12. Denmark and Poland currently occupy the first two spots in the Group E with 16 points each. As a result, Armenia will have to keep waiting at least four more years for their first World Cup appearance.
England – Phil Jones, Marcus Rashford, Chris Smalling, and Jesse Lingard
Phil Jones and Marcus Rashford started for England in a decisive home fixture against Slovakia. England won 2-1 at Wembley, but the game was far harder than what many experts predicted. And the biggest star of the game was no other than Rashford.
The talented 19-year-old attacker started as a right winger, and thrived on that position. He was a constant menace in the final third and kept Peter Pekarik on his toes all game long, while establishing a great partnership with Kyle Walker down the flank. As if that wasn’t enough, Rashford was involved in both of England goals. First he assisted Eric Dier on the equaliser with a pinpoint cross from a corner kick, and later he scored the winner during the second half when he blasted a long-range shot straight into the bottom left corner.
Rashford left the game in the 84th minute under a standing ovation from the crowd. He finished the contest with five shots (three on target), five dribble attempts (one completed), 10 crosses (four accurate) and six key passes to go along with the goal and the assist. Meanwhile, Jones played the whole 90 minutes at centre-back and finished with four clearances, two interceptions, and one tackle.
The rest? Chris Smalling sat on the bench and Jesse Lingard was n0t included on the squad once again.
With the win, England solidified his top position at the top of Group F with 20 points in eight matches. Since Slovakia sit second with 15 points and are only two games left on the schedule, The Three Lions are one win away from clinching a berth in Russia 2018.