Harry Kane’s injury-time winner secured England’s qualification for next summer’s World Cup with victory against Slovenia – but this was a display designed to dampen any sense of expectation.
Kane, England captain for the night, bundled in Kyle Walker’s cross for his 11th goal in 22 international appearances to finally break down Slovenia’s resistance as they looked likely to hold out for a point.
It meant manager Gareth Southgate can now start planning in earnest for Russia but could not cover up the cracks in an England performance that was lifeless, uninspired and mediocre.
Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling almost broke the deadlock before Kane made his breakthrough, the hosts were also grateful to much-criticised keeper Joe Hart for some crucial interventions.
England and Southgate have achieved their goal. It was not, however, achieved in a manner that will start alarm bells ringing for any future World Cup opposition.
Elsewhere in the group, Scotland kept their qualifying hopes alive in dramatic fashion as a late Martin Skrtel own goal gave them victory over 10-man Slovakia at Hampden Park.