Late Lallana strike wins it for England

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Sam Allardyce’s England kicked off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a narrow 1-0 win against 10-man Slovakia at the Stadion Antona Malatinskeho in Trnava on Sunday evening.

It was the first match under the new boss, who had largely kept faith with the same squad that Roy Hodgson took to the European Champions in France, with eight of the 11 players that lost to Iceland at the Euros starting this match.

And with the relatively uninspiring game seemingly headed for a goalless draw after Martin Skrtel had been dismissed, Lallana popped up in the 95th minute to secure a vital three points.

As expected, the visitors dominated much of the possession early on with Raheem Stirling lively upfont as part of an attacking front four including Wayne Rooney, Adam Lallana and Harry Kane.

And the Manchester City striker may well have capitalised on a poor catch by Hubocan Kozacik from an Eric Dier cross on 19 minutes only for the goalkeeper to gather the ball at the second attempt.

Kane then missed the ball altogether from an excellent low cross into the box from teammate Kyle Walker on 22 minutes before taking an elbow to the face from Skrtel in an otherwise quiet night for the Tottenham.

Michal Duris won Slovakia’s first corner on 34 minutes off the head of John Stones but the set-piece only resulted in a free-kick for England with Joe Hart fouled.

The hosts’ first chance arrived four minutes later after Danny Rose was dispossessed by Peter Pekarik in the box who then fed Duris to set up Dusan Svento but his connection was poor as Hart saved easily.

A relatively nondescript first half ended with Sterling shooting narrowly wide of the goal after a neat pass from Kane before the Spurs man saw his 43rd minute shot deflect out for a corner.

Henderson shot high and wide from distance for the first real chance of the second half, after 50 minutes, before Kane failed to connect when through on goal.

Henderson saw a header across goal easily claimed by Kozacik from a Rooney delivery before Skrtel was dismissed for a second yellow for a stamp on Kane that could have been a straight red.

Svento’s 61st minute delivery threatened to cause problems for the England defence but Rose did well to clear ahead of a good chance for Lallana three minutes later, but the Liverpool man could only blast his effort wide after a neat flick by Jordan Henderson.

Substitute Delli Alli, who had just replaced Henderson, almost got to a rebounded Rooney shot that was cleared for another corner before being crowded out in the area after a good Rooney ball into the box.

Rooney then hit a free-kick onto the roof of the goal from 25 yards while Lallana thought he had scored when his 76th minute shot hit a post after a great turn, only for Walcott to completely mis-hit the rebound.

The Manchester United striker’s appeals for a penalty, after going down in the box following a cross from the right by Walker were waved away and, despite being a man down, Slovakia were playing with purpose in the final stages as Allardyce replaced Kane with Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge.

Growing increasingly desperate to score, Rooney had a pop at goal from 25 yards but it was easily blocked by the visiting defence.

Stones went on a late run that opened up the Slovakian midfield before feeding Lallana whose effort flew narrowly wide as Walcott missed a sitter from close range from a Rooney delivery, although the offside flag was raised.

Walcott hit the target two minutes later but was again in an offside position after connecting to a Sturridge pass.

And with the game seemingly done and dusted, Lallana popped up with a late, late winner for the Three Lions in the fifth minute of stoppage time at the end of the match.

A loose ball fell to the Reds midfielder following a deflection from Pekarik before he turned neatly and fired home at the near post.