Wayne Rooney was able to set an outright record for the most caps as an outfield player for the England men’s senior team, overtaking former captain and national legend David Beckham, in England’s Group F World Cup Qualifying group opener against main group rivals Slovakia.
Sam Allardyce would have wanted to get off to an impressive start as England manager, but relied on Adam Lallana to save England’s skin, sending Allardyce’s side home with three points to kick things off under Allardyce’s reign.
The first half was an intensely disappointing one in the eyes of the English nation, with the only point of concern coming when Fenerbahce defender and Slovakia captain Martin Skrtel was shown a yellow card after elbowing Harry Kane when challenging for a header.
Just before the hour mark, Kane and Skrtel continued their personal battle when Kane got the better of Skrtel, who brought Kane down and immediately stamped on him, leaving the referee with no choice but to show the captain his second yellow card and dismiss him from the pitch.
England continued to press against Slovakia and came extremely close when Lallana turned a defender from John Stones’ pass before smashing a shot off the post which was then cleared to safety. Less than a minute later, the Liverpool winger came close again but his curling shot was palmed aside by the Slovakian shot stopper, Kozacik.
As the clock approached the 90th minute, substitute Theo Walcott thought he had won England the game when a Slovakian defender dispossessed fellow substitute, Daniel Sturridge. The ball fell to Walcott who slotted home, but the goal was controversially ruled out for offside.
But enter, Adam Lallana…
Danny Rose used some tricky wing play to beat two defenders before putting in a low cross that was toe-poked away slightly by the man at the near post. However, Lallana controlled the loose ball, skipped past one man and slipped his shot through the legs of the ‘keeper to earn his first England goal and to give Allardyce the first win of his reign.
Left-back Danny Rose deserves Man of the Match for his deserved work going forward tonight. Despite one lapse of concentration in the first half which could have cost England the game, Rose stood out in an average England side and thoroughly deserved the assist he got.
Slovakia XI: Kozacik, Pekarik, Skrtel, Durica, Hubocan, Pocovsky, Mak (Kubic 71), Gregus, Hamsik, Svento (Kiss 77), Duris.
England XI: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Stones, Rose, Dierm, Henderson (Alli 64), Sterling (Walcott 70), Rooney, Lallana, Kane (Sturridge 81).