Sri Lankan batsmen Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara bravely dug their heels in on day three of the first Test at Lord's but England had its sights firmly on victory by stumps.
Sangakkara (65) added 109 with Tharanga (52) and 69 with Mahela Jayawardene early in the visitors' second innings but English bowler Monty Panesar broke both partnerships.
The day started in similar fashion to the previous two for the tourists as they slumped to be all out for 192 in the first innings.
Starting the day on 91-6, Sri Lanka's tail-order did well to battle through to 192.
Chasing England's first innings total of 551-6 declared, Sri Lanka was asked to follow on by English skipper Andrew Flintoff and batted bravely to 183-3 at stumps.
When Panesar had Sangakkara out late in the day Farveez Maharoof joined Jayawardene at the crease to take the struggling side to stumps at 183-3, with 176 more needed to avoid an innings loss.
Sri Lanka, batting in stark contrast to its opening innings, looked to set to end the third day in a much more commanding position.
However, 40 overs into the second innings Panesar broke the opening stand when he had Tharanga edge a delivery that kept low.
Shortly after skipper Flintoff turned to him again and he delivered, snaring the prized wicket of Sangakkara when the strike batsman edged the ball behind just after he had begun to build on a patient half-century.
Sangakkara's dismissal leaves Sri Lanka poised on 183-3 heading into the fourth day at Lord's.