Abject terror has typically been the Pavlovian reaction Liverpool fans have had to the phrase “international duty.” Against Slovakia however, an in-form Adam Lallana not only defied convention by returning to the fold in one piece, but managed to score his first goal for England in 27 outings in a World Cup qualifier win over Slovakia and surely giving his already brimming confidence another massive boost.
Lallana turned in a man-of-the-match display on Sam Allardyce’s managerial debut, looking the most likely of a listless England squad seemingly as devoid of new ideas as they were during their underwhelming Euro 2016 campaign. With Harry Kane continuing with what is starting to become a habitually slow start to the season, Raheem Sterling flattering to deceive and Wayne Rooney, in his record 116th appearance, doing that thing he does where he tries to play the No. 10 role from the halfway line, it was the Liverpool midfielder alone who brought the creativity, attacking verve and inspiration for an unlikely victory.
Despite the end result, England struggled to break down the minnows for much of the match, this despite Martin Skrtel doing his very best to gift-wrap a win for Allardyce’s men, receiving his marching orders with 30 minutes to go in the contest after a trademark red card from two rash yellows. Even then, there was still nothing doing for England until Lallana popped up in the 95th-minute with the last kick of the game, putting a left-footed strike beneath the legs of Slovakia goalkeeper Matus Kozacik.
Most interestingly, the former Southampton man used the opportunity to display his versatility by operating on the left of an otherwise-staid front three rounded out by Kane and Sterling. So far for Liverpool this season, the 28-year-old has started from a new, deeper role in midfield to considerable success, but this performance will be sure to help jog Jürgen Klopp’s memory of his abilities in the final third.
Considered a bit of a flop prior to the German’s arrival due to the frustrating lack of end product, the flashy midfielder has arguably progressed more than any other player inherited from Brendan Rogers in the team. Now, after a grand total of one goal in the entire previous campaign, his two strikes for club and country in the first month of this new season has it looking like Klopp’s faith in Lallana is starting to come good.