Slovakia 0-1 England: Adam Lallana scores late in World Cup Qualifier
By Stephen Mills
Last Updated: 05/09/16 6:04am
Adam Lallana struck a 95th-minute winner to secure Sam Allardyce a dramatic 1-0 win over Slovakia in his first match in charge of England.
The Liverpool forward scored with almost the last kick of the match to earn the new England boss a morale-boosting victory and three points in Sunday's World Cup Qualifier.
For long spells, it looked as though England would not be able to force a breakthrough in their opening Group F match in Trnava despite playing the last 33 minutes against 10 men following a red card for Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel.
But after substitute Theo Walcott was denied a late winner by the offside flag, Lallana struck his first international goal to break the hearts of the home side and give England a positive start in their qualification campaign for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Allardyce set up his first England side in a 4-3-3 formation with Wayne Rooney - retained as captain and on corner-taking duty from the start - on the left of midfield alongside Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier.
Harry Kane has now not scored in his nine competitive matches for club and country and failed to connect with an early low Kyle Walker cross before being floored by a Skrtel elbow for which the Slovakia captain received his first booking.
Slovakia wasted the best chance of the first half when the careless Danny Rose was dispossessed by Peter Pekarnik inside his own penalty area. Michal Duris played an inviting low ball into the centre, but the lunging Dusan Svento narrowly failed to tap into an empty net.
Raheem Sterling then capitalised on a mix-up between Tomas Hubocan and Skrtel inside the six-yard box, but his low effort flashed across the goal and wide as Allardyce's side failed to register a shot on target in the first half.
Skrtel was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card when he appeared to trip Kane as he looked to break three minutes before the interval, but Serbian referee Milorad Mazic decided no offence had been committed.
The former Liverpool defender rode his luck again on 53 minutes when he avoided punishment for a lunge on Kane, but was eventually given his marching orders five minutes later for flooring the Tottenham striker and then stamping on his heel as he lay on the floor.
Allardyce responded by sending Dele Alli on to replace Henderson, meaning Rooney finished his 116th England appearance - a new record for an outfield player - in a central midfield duo with Dier.
Walcott also came on for Sterling and Daniel Sturridge replaced Kane as England struggled to carve out clear chances against a resolute 10 men.
Lallana almost found the breakthrough with 13 minutes left when he collected the ball from Rooney and rattled the post with a left-footed strike from the edge of the area before Walcott mis-cued with the rebound.
Walcott then put the ball in the net from close range in the 90th minute only to be flagged offside. England's players complained the ball had been played to him by substitute Filip Kiss, but replays indicated the ball grazed Sturridge's studs on the way through and the officials were right to disallow the goal.
The home side did not have a shot on target in 90 minutes and thought they had held on for a goalless draw against England - just as they did at Euro 2016 only 11 weeks ago.
But Lallana had the final say deep into injury time after Rose's cross was deflected into his path eight yards from goal and he took a touch before drilling home under the body of goalkeeper Matus Kozacik.
Slovakia's players were floored as England wildly celebrated going top of the fledgling Group F table - and the moment left a beaming smile on the face of their relieved new manager.
Pete Taylor's England player ratings
Hart (7), Walker (7), Cahill (7), Stones (8), Rose (7), Dier (7), Henderson (6), Rooney (7), Lallana (7), Sterling (6), Kane (6).
Used subs: Alli (7), Walcott (6), Sturridge (6)
Man of the Match: John Stones
Watch highlights of England's victory over Slovakia on Sky Sports 1 from 10pm and follow all of the World Cup Qualifiers across Europe on Sky Sports' platforms.