Debuting at the age of 25, one club man Adam Lallana was joined by fellow Southampton debutant Jay Rodriguez as he took to the turf at Wembley Stadium last night.
Whilst his club compatriot floundered in a disappointing and nervy England display, Lallana provided those present at Wembley with the answers as to why he has proved so crucial to Southampton's early season success. The swagger and confidence which has dominated his displays for the Saints this season led to his call-up, and Lallana cannot be accused of failing to transfer that attitude into the England camp.
Lallana's first contribution was to take a free-kick from deep, which was expertly swung in and onto the head of Phil Jones, with only Claudio Bravo denying England an early lead.
Whilst the performance on the whole from the England side was far from satisfying, Lallana showed the guile and craft that led to the likes of Rickie Lambert and manager Mauricio Pochettino touting him for an England call-up.
Roy Hodgson obliged and he cannot have been disappointed with the talents brought to the table by the Southampton academy product. Operating on the right-flank for the majority of his 76 minutes on the field, Lallana demonstrated a range of passes, complimented by a host of deft flicks and intelligent first touches to bring other players into the game.
Lallana enjoyed a good understanding with Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, with the two regularly looking to combine and move the ball sharply to engineer attacks which their England team-mates were unable to read. The combination of attacking flair and defensive work-rate came to the fore, with the midfielder hassling the Chilean opposition, as well as chasing back to put in tackles and break up attacks from the visiting side.
It was this combination that almost provided England with a goal when Rooney expertly slipped Lallana in on goal, only for his near post attempt to deflect wide of the far post following a deflection from a Chilean leg.
Lallana, used to a high pressing game with his club side, would've felt as if he was on the other side of the coin on Friday night, as Chile continued to press and harry the England side into sloppy errors on several occasions.
It is the adaptation to the England system which often proves the most difficult transition for any player, and this was notably the case in the opening twenty minutes.
Regularly Lallana would turn, where he would regularly be expecting support from Luke Shaw. However on this occasion, Glen Johnson provided little in terms of attacking intent, causing Lallana to resort to a simple pass to the midfield trio of Milner, Lampard and Wilshere.
Overall, whilst England turned in a dour and damp performance in front of a crowd of 62,963 at Wembley Stadium, it was Lallana who provided perhaps the most promising aspect of the display.
Effective in possession, Lallana's sharp movement and quick inter-play threatened the Chilean defence in a way that was all too infrequent from his England colleagues.
image: © wonker