Match ends, Slovakia 0, England 1.
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.
A win's a win?
Lallana's winner sparked scenes of wild celebration on England's bench - but this was as much out of relief as any other emotion. Nothing can disguise that this was a largely pedestrian and colourless display until a late surge of pressure against a tiring Slovakia side without key defender Skrtel following his deserved red card.
England often laboured and it took until the 65th minute to muster their first shot on target through captain Wayne Rooney, a reflection of their failure to capitalise on superiority when measured in territory and possession.
Too often, this performance offered up a painful reminder of the flaws England demonstrated at Euro 2016, with striker Kane not only short of confidence - and buffeted throughout by Skrtel before his red card - but also starved of decent support and supply.
It is, however, a time for realism. This is an England team who left France in humiliation in the summer. Those ills were never going to be cured in 90 minutes.
For all the faults on display, this was a crucial if very unspectacular win - a very small building block in restoring confidence.
Rooney question lingers on
Allardyce suggested before the game that captain Rooney would be restored to a more offensive role here in Trnava and that the experiment of using him in midfield, a ploy that became a narrative throughout Roy Hodgson's dismal Euro 2016 campaign, was over.
And yet here he was, back in midfield with Eric Dier and Jordan Henderson as a defensive shield - often dropping far too deep to make any real impact.
Allardyce's strident defence of Rooney's ability and selfless team ethic showed how much he admires the 30-year-old Manchester United captain but it was noticeable England had more drive once Dele Alli was introduced into the number 10 role.
It is early days for Allardyce, and he is clearly counting on Rooney after confirming him as his captain. It remains to be seen, though, whether Rooney is used again in midfield or whether this was simply a decision taken for a potentially hazardous opening qualifier.
After the game, Allardyce said it is "not for me to say where to play Wayne Rooney", adding that "he did play a little deeper than I thought he'd play today".
Time for patience
England's opening match under Allardyce was greeted with cries of "same old same old" from social media observers - and even those of us watching from close quarters in Trnava would have trouble making a case to the contrary.
Henderson still looks short of England class, Raheem Sterling worked hard to little effect and Kane's struggles continued until he was mercifully substituted.
And yet it is unrealistic - as well as unfair on Allardyce - to suggest he can simply stroll into the wreckage of Euro 2016 and put matters right in a matter of days.
Yes, England might have benefited from the presence of Manchester United teenager Marcus Rashford as an option from the bench and Allardyce's reluctance to use Jamie Vardy surprised some, although the Leicester City striker's strength is on the counter rather than against the blanket Slovakian defence we saw here.
It is the start of a new regime and anyone expecting Allardyce to apply an instant fix is living in the realms of fantasy.
England's rehabilitation will take time. Allardyce and the Football Association will take this win all day long after the pain of France.
Man of the match - Adam Lallana
The stats you need to know
- Sam Allardyce's debut victory makes him the ninth successive England manager to win their first game in charge.
- Wayne Rooney made his 116th appearance for England, more than any other outfield player. Only goalkeeper Peter Shilton (125) has played more games for England.
- England have won each of their last 13 Euro/World Cup qualifying matches.
- They have attempted 49 shots (including blocks) in their last two matches against Slovakia, managing to score just once.
- Slovakia had just one shot in the whole match, and it was off target.
England's next match will be Sam Allardyce's first on home turf as his side play Malta in another 2018 World Cup qualifier on 8 October.
- 3SkrtelBooked at 57mins
- 15HubocanBooked at 90mins
- 22PecovskySubstituted forGyömbérat 56'minutes
- 20MakSubstituted forKubikat 72'minutes
- 18SventoSubstituted forKissat 78'minutes
- 8HendersonSubstituted forAlliat 64'minutes
- 7SterlingSubstituted forWalcottat 71'minutes
- 9KaneSubstituted forSturridgeat 82'minutes
- 11LallanaBooked at 90mins
- Milorad Mazic
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Slovakia 0, England 1.
Tomas Hubocan (Slovakia) is shown the yellow card.
Adam Lallana (England) is shown the yellow card for excessive celebration.
Goal! Slovakia 0, England 1. Adam Lallana (England) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.
Foul by John Stones (England).
Jan Durica (Slovakia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Delay in match Matús Kozácik (Slovakia) because of an injury.
Offside, England. Daniel Sturridge tries a through ball, but Theo Walcott is caught offside.
Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (England) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Kyle Walker.
Offside, England. Wayne Rooney tries a through ball, but Theo Walcott is caught offside.
Attempt missed. Adam Lallana (England) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by John Stones.
Dele Alli (England) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Frantisek Kubik (Slovakia).
Attempt blocked. Wayne Rooney (England) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge.
Substitution, England. Daniel Sturridge replaces Harry Kane.
Attempt blocked. Dele Alli (England) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Danny Rose.
John Stones (England) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Frantisek Kubik (Slovakia).