Lallana's late strike sees Allardyce make winning start
Adam Lallana scored in the 94th minute to give England a 1-0 win over 10-man Slovakia in their opening World Cup 2018 qualifier
Sam Allardyce's tenure as England coach got off to a winning start in Trnava thanks to a 94th minute winner from Liverpool's Adam Lallana, giving England all three points in their opening World Cup 2018 qualifier.
Slovakia - who had been reduced to 10 men on 56 minutes after Skrtel received a second yellow card for stamping on Harry Kane - managed to hold out until almost the last kick of the game, finally succumbing to England's relentless spell of pressure when Lallana's close range effort crept under keeper Kozacik.
It was cruel on Slovakia, who had -- despite the sending off -- restricted England to just three attempts on target before the agonising killer blow. Lallana's scrappy goal, England would argue, was deserving after Allardyce's men dominated possession for the whole game.
Although England's dominance finally told, there were worrying signs that England's lack of creativity, which made them pay so dear at Euro 2016, still remains despite the change of coach.
Slovakia 0-1 England - As it happened:
95 mins | Full Time. Slovakia 0-1 England. Lallana's goal was practically the last kick of the game and England claim, by the skin of their teeth, all three points in their opening World Cup 2018 qualifier. It's a winning start for Sam Allardyce, and he'll certainly take that.
94 mins | GOAL! Lallana. Rose cuts the ball back, a defender get a leg to it but it falls straight to the Liverpool man. He lets fire and it creeps, just, over the line after hitting the keeper on the legs. It's a late, late winner!
92 mins | News just in from the other game in Group F. Slovenia have come back from two behind to draw level in Lithuania. Full time there.
90 mins | Walcott finds the net! But it's ruled offside. A suspicion that a Slovakian defender played that through, but on replays it looks like the correct decision.
89 mins | It's increasingly desperate from England. Shots are coming from further out now. Sturridge tries his look from 30 yards and Kozacik catches easily.
85 mins | It's another pot shot from Lallana with his left peg, this time from further out, and it skids just passed the post. That's England's 17th attempt at goal, Slovakia have made a grand total of zero. It's worth saying that only three of England's shots have been on target, mind you.
80 mins | 10 minutes to go, and you wouldn't bet against Slovakia holding out at this point. It's been all England since the red card, but the men in red still aren't creating much. It was their Achilles heel at the Euros and it looks like the same lack of inventiveness remains despite the change of coach. Allardyce has his work cut out...
75 mins | Post! Lallana's left-footed effort hits the woodwork. That's probably the closest England have come. Lallana gets a second bite at the cherry as the ball falls to him seconds after, but its straight at Kozacik.
72 mins | SUB: Slovakia make another change. Kubik replaces Mak.
70 mins | Rooney's free-kick from 25 yards sails harmlessly over the bar
69 mins | Alli has added a bit of well needed zip for England...he's causing problems at the back for Slovakia. Rooney almost slides him through but it's cut off. If anything's going to happen for England it look like the Spurs midfielder might orchestrate it.
66 mins | It's unsurprisingly all England now after the Skrtel sending off. It's relentless pressure at the moment. Sterling's neat effort from the edge of the box is heading for the top corner but Kozacik just gets a hand to it. Yer another corner follows.
64 mins | SUB: Alli comes on for Henderson
63 mins | Chance for Lallana. Kane lays it off inside the area and it bounces up nicely. Lallana just can't keep his shot down and it goes high and wide.
56 mins | RED CARD! Skrtel is off for yet another bite at Kane. It's a nothing challenge at first and Kane falls over, but the ever-angry Skrtel can't resist stamping out at him on the floor, which seems him duly sent to the changing rooms for a second yellow. That could well have been a straight red in its own right.
53 mins | Rooney sends in a free-kick from the left and finds Henderson who heads back invitingly across goal. Kozacik is first to claim it and with that the chance is gone.
50 mins | Kane breaks into the box and stutters his run to try and fool the covering defender, It almost works, but Kane's effort loops high into the air off the defender's leg, leaving an easy catch for Kozacik
47 mins | It's England posing the early threat through Sterling down the left. The Man City man beats his man and his cross is tipped behind for a corner. England win a second one, but it comes to nothing.
46 mins | We're back underway. Here's hoping for a better 45 mins of entertainment. We can but hope.
HALF TIME: Elsewhere in Group F it's Lithuania 2-0 Slovenia.
45 mins (+1) | That's half time here at the City Arena and it's 0-0 after a rather uninspiring first 45 minutes of the Sam Allardyce era.
43 mins | Martin is Skrtel is a lucky boy. What looked like a blatant foul on Kane (again) is waved away by the ref. That should have been his second yellow.
41 mins | The game's opened up a bit now. Kane finds some space on the edge of the box but his shot is blocked before it can test Kozacik. Corner England, but Rooney's cross is headed away.
37 mins | Now a chance for England. They go up straight up the other end and some really poor defending gives Sterling a glimpse, but he flashes his shot wide from a tight angle. This is more like it.
36 mins | First big chance for Slovakia! Svento breaks into the box from the right hand side and slides it across goal. It just needs a toe from the sliding Duris but he can't get there! Let off for England!
31 mins | Perhaps not the start Sam Allardyce was dreaming of, so far at least anyway. Slovakia seem very comfortable containing England, and you have to say, there's nothing between the teams at the moment...they're both as bad as each other!
27 mins | It's a real scrappy affair this, and now it's starting to a get petulant too with some late tackles coming in. That'll suit Slovakia.
24 mins | Yellow Card. And no surprises that it's gone to Skrtel for some high flailing arms on Harry Kane. Free kick from 30 yards out. Thankfully for England, Kane isn't taking it.
23 mins | Match stats update: 0 shots on target for either team, which tells you just about all you need to know, really.
22 mins | Some neat play from England on the right sees Walker break forward to the byline and put a vicious low cross in. It's a chance for Kane but he can't get a foot to it. Smashed clear by Slovakia.
18 mins | Stones fouls Mak on Slovakia’s right wing. Svento knocks it in from the resulting free kick, but Kane heads it away. England break, but end up giving it away. Really poor game.
16 mins | Rooney plays a corner short to Lallana, who plays it back to Rooney, who proceeds to to whack his cross straight out of play. Nice one, Wayne.
13 mins | It's not been a great start and there's very little action to get excited about on the pitch. Off it, England fans are entertaining themselves by singing rude songs about the Scotland manager!
10 mins | Rooney almost plays a blinder of a pass from deep to put Sterling through, but Durica just cuts it out
8 mins | Little in the way of real chances so far, but Sam Allardyce's men seeing far more of the ball. Not really troubled Slovakia with it though.
7 mins | Rose clatters into Pekarik and gives Slovakia a free-kick just to the left of the England area. First test for the Three Lions defence.....and it's headed away.
5 mins | A reminder that England, the away side, are playing in red tonight. Slovakia are in their new Nike-sponsored white number.
3 mins | Rooney's corner is cleared for a throw. The resulting play sees Walker break into the box and pull a dangerous looking ball back, but it's cleared to safety once again.
2 mins | England keeping possession well and get an early corner
0 mins | Peeeeep! And we're off
5 mins to kickoff: Here come the anthems!
Slovakia: Kozacik; Pekarik, Skrtel, Ducia, Hubocan; Mak, Gregus, Pecovsky, Hamsik, Svento; Duris.
Subs: Novota, Dubravka, Gyomber, Kubik, Kiss, Povazanec, Pich, Sylvester, Pauschek, Stetina.
England: Hart; Walker, Cahill, Stones, Rose; Henderson, Dier; Sterling, Rooney, Lallana; Kane.
Subs: Heaton, McCarthy, Smalling, Walcott, Sturridge, Jagielka, Clyne, Drinkwater, Vardi, Alli, Antonio.
Preview of Slovakia vs England
Welcome to our build up and live commentary to the opening World Cup 2018 qualifying match between Slovakia and England. Both teams hoping that this is the start of their road to Russia.
Both of these teams are expected by most to finish in the top two places in the Group F table so it's an appetising opening fixture and could have a significant effect on the way the rest of the qualifying in this group pans out.
Ján Kozák, the manager of tonight's hosts, doesn't have to look far back to the previous meeting between these two opponents as they also faced off in the Euro 2016 groups. Slovakia earned a credible 0-0 draw in June against a team tipped to do very well at the tournament. Napoli's Marek Hamsik is one man that could provide hope for the underdogs. It was he who scored a delicious goal against Russia in the summer and has the ability to cause problems.
Their objective, assuming no tactical upheaval in the past couple of months, will be to give up possession, soak up the pressure and then hit England on the break. The challenge to that plan tonight is that some key cogs in the counter-attacking wheel are expected to be missing. Former Manchester City winger Vladimir Weiss looks to be out injured as are midefielders Ondrej Duda and Patrik Hrosovsky. Another pair of legs that will not be bursting forward are those of Fenerbahce winger Miroslav Stoch who has been left out of the squad with Kozák not clarifying the reason but saying that, "after Euro 2016, a situation came up and because of it I cannot imagine working with him again."
New manager, Sam Allardyce was expected to shake things up in a team that disappointed beyond belief in the summer's Euro championships, but this doesn't appear to be the case. One of the first things the new boss did was confirm Wayne Rooney's continued service as captain. He has since advised that the majority of his starting team will be the familiar faces from the previous campaign, with Joe Hart to start in goal after his turbulent summer. And why not?
The expected starting XI: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Stones, Rose, Dier, Henderson, Lallana, Rooney, Sterling, Kane.
There is little doubt that the players that were in the squad with Roy Hodgson can play at the top level. The question is how to get the best from them collectively. Can Sam do that? Only time will tell and tonight's game, arguably the toughest of the group for them, will give an early insight to confidence levels, individual roles and style of play. A positive result and another comfortable qualifying campaign will be expected. A poor-peforming loss and more questions will be asked about the state of the national game in England. The manager has had little time to make his mark but expectations and pressure are part and parcel of his employment conditions.
Live build-up to the World Cup qualifier, Slovakia vs England
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