England Kick off their World Cup Qualifying Campaign with win
It took until the 95th minute but at the death England scraped a 0-1 victory away in Slovakia.
To everyone’s relief Adam Lallana managed to squeeze the ball between the legs of the goalkeeper.
The Liverpool man had a number of shots, one hitting the post, and deserved a bit of luck. It was his first goal for England.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) 4 September 2016
Three points is all that matters especially against the side ranked second in the group.
It is an easy World Cup qualifying group and England should walk it.
But in truth it was a pretty dire performance with the away side showing little creativity, particularly disappointing because England were playing against ten men for 35 minutes after Slovakian captain Martin Skrtel was sent off for two yellow cards.
You could see the newspaper headlines set to savage debut manager Sam Allardyce – New England? Same Old Rubbish.
Allardyce and England got out of jail.
They battered Slovakia in the second half and deserved to nick it, but tortured England fans were put through the ringer.
A dreadful first half had been entirely reminiscent of the 0-0 result between the two sides in the Euros.
A chance apiece and neither could take it.
Lots of possession for England but no end product.
— Sky Sports News HQ (@SkySportsNewsHQ) September 4, 2016
Harry Kane looked off form as he has been for months – disappointing Euro 2016, no goals in August for his club Tottenham.
Wayne Rooney was ridiculously deep and largely anonymous.
It surely could only get better. Couldn’t it?
And finally it did.
Poor by Skrtel, the former Liverpool centre-back, who could and maybe should have been sent off far earlier than he was.
It was the turning point in the game
The betting was that England would gradually wear down the ten men and the goals would come.
Allardyce gambled by throwing on Deli Alli, Daniel Sturridge and Theo Walcott and the team certainly looked brighter for the changes. And the pressure told.
— England (@England) 4 September 2016
Slovakia were somewhat unlucky having held out for so long and were devastated as the whistle went within seconds of the England score.
Indeed, if the goalkeeper hadn’t been wasting time towards the end of the second period the whistle would have gone earlier.
Justice was done but it was not an England performance which will do anything to frighten the world’s leading football nations.
It was plain ordinary and Allardyce has much to do to galvanise this side.
Roy Hodgson won every qualifying match in the run up to the Euros, and England were still abject when the real thing came round.
It was Allardyce’s first game in charge, he admitted he was nervous and as it turned out he had good reason to be.
OK, it’s his honeymoon period and he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
But England must do better than this.