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Rediff.com  » Sports » 2018 World Cup qualifiers: England grab last-gasp win over 10-man Slovakia

2018 World Cup qualifiers: England grab last-gasp win over 10-man Slovakia

Last updated on: September 05, 2016 15:53 IST

England's Adam Lallana (left) celebrates scoring the winning goal with teammate Gary Cahill

IMAGE: England's Adam Lallana (left) celebrates scoring the winning goal with teammate Gary Cahill in their 2018 World Cup Qualifying European Zone, Group F match against Slovakia at City Arena, Trnava, Slovakia, on Sunday. Photograph: Carl Recine Livepic/Action Images via Reuters

England's Adam Lallana scored his first international goal with the last kick of the game as they beat 10-man Slovakia 1-0 in their World Cup Group F qualifier on Sunday to get new manager Sam Allardyce's reign off to a winning start.

But for much of a lacklustre contest in Trnava it looked like England would be frustrated with a re-run of the goalless draw the teams shared in their last clash during the group stage at Euro 2016 in Saint-Etienne in June.

England struggled to shrug off familiar problems, controlling the game without looking like winning it even after Slovakia defender Martin Skrtel was dismissed for stamping on Harry Kane in the 57th minute.

His departure signalled a period of intense pressure from England, with Lallana hitting the post before he finally scrambled home the winner through the goalkeeper's legs as the referee checked his watch ready to blow the final whistle.

Eriksen scores, misses penalty in Denmark win

England's Adam Lallana (left) celebrates scoring the winning goal with teammate Gary Cahill in their 2018 World Cup Qualifying European Zone, Group F match against Slovakia at City Arena, Trnava, Slovakia, on Sunday

IMAGE: Denmark's Christian Eriksen celebrates his goal against Armenia during their World Cup 2018 qualifiers at Parken Stadium, Copenhagen, in Denmark on Sunday. Photograph: Scanpix Denmark/Liselotte Sabroe/via Reuters

Christian Eriksen scored a first-half goal but missed a second-half penalty as wasteful Denmark began their World Cup qualifying campaign with 1-0 win over Armenia in European Group E on Sunday.

With the visitors missing captain and record goal-scorer Henrikh Mkhitaryan due to a thigh injury, Eriksen rifled home Viktor Fischer's backheeled pass in the 17th minute of coach Age Hareide's first competitive international in charge.

In driving rain, Fischer saw his powerful first-half shot from distance come cannoning back off the crossbar and Eriksen had a second-half penalty saved by Armenia goalkeeper Arsen Beglaryan as the Danes struggled to convert their dominance into goals.

Armenia, who have never qualified for the World Cup as an independent nation, managed just one shot on target and Denmark, who themselves missed out on Brazil on 2014, held out comfortably.

Former Norway coach Hareide was appointed last December to replace Morten Olsen after Denmark failed to qualify for Euro 2016.

Stanciu misses stoppage-time penalty as Romania held

Nicolae Stanciu missed a penalty in the sixth minute of stoppage time as Romania were held to a 1-1 at home by Montenegro in a World Cup qualifier on Sunday, giving their new coach Christoph Daum a nerve-wracking start.

Romania appeared to have clinched the points in the European Group E match when substitute Adrian Popa kept his composure to score after the ball was deflected to him in the 85th minute.

Montenegro levelled 90 seconds later when Steven Jovetic headed in Damir Kojasevic's free kick, then Romania were awarded a last-gasp penalty only for Stanciu to send his shot well over the crossbar.

Much-travelled German Daum became Romania's first foreign coach for more than 80 years when he replaced Anghel Iordanescu, who stepped down after Romania's failure to make it past the first round of Euro 2016.

"My boys deserved to win if I judge by their efforts and especially by what they did in the second half," he said.

Mueller, Kimmich fire Germany past Norway

Bayern Munich team-mates Thomas Mueller and Joshua Kimmich fired title-holders Germany to a commanding 3-0 win away to Norway in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier.

Mueller struck in the 16th minute on Sunday at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo before Kimmich netted Germany's second goal on the stroke of half-time.

Mueller then scored again on the hour to ensure a winning start for Joachim Loew's team in Group C as the world champions set off on the road to the finals in Russia.

Germany top the group after the opening round of matches, with Azerbaijan also claiming a 1-0 victory against San Marino and Northern Ireland holding CzechRepublic to a 0-0 draw.

The four-time world champions are trying to become the first European team since Italy in 1938 to retain the trophy, and the visitors quickly took the game to Per-Mathias Hogmo's Norway.

Northern Ireland hold Czechs to goalless draw

Northern Ireland opened their World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign with a goalless draw against Group C rivals the CzechRepublic in Prague.

Playing their first competitive game since their 1-0 defeat to Wales in the last-16 phase of Euro 2016, Northern Ireland relied on solid defence and breakaways throughout the game.

"We're pleased with the point," said Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill.

"It's a better point for us than it is for them, obviously."

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