Adam Lallana spared England’s embarrassment with an injury-time strike as Sam Allardyce’s reign started with victory in Slovakia.
England struggled to break Slovakia’s resistance in this opening World Cup qualifier – even when they were reduced to 10 men after captain Martin Skrtel’s 57th-minute dismissal for a foul on Harry Kane.
Allardyce claimed before the game that he might be satisfied with a draw against a Slovakian side who shut England out in a 0-0 group-stage draw at Euro 2016 – but that would not have been the case had they failed to profit from their numerical advantage in Trnava.
Lallana had been England’s best hope of a goal as he struck the post and forced a fine save from Slovakia keeper Matus Kozacik before his decisive intervention seconds from the final whistle.
Liverpool’s midfield man had failed to score in his 26 previous England appearances but snatched the winner here as his low shot squeezed under Kozacik just as Slovakia thought they had survived a spell of sustained pressure near the end.