Adam Lallana enjoyed an impressive night for England against Holland on Tuesday, despite Roy Hodgson’s side succumbing to a surprise defeat at Wembley.
The Three Lions were in buoyant spirits, following Saturday’s 3-2 win away to Germany, and an under-strength Dutch side made a home win look likely.
Lallana was one of just three England players to keep his place in the side from Saturday, along with Chris Smalling and Danny Rose.
The 27-year-old was comfortably one of his team’s brightest sparks in a very low-key first half, playing with freedom to the left of a midfield diamond.
While others around him looked all too one-paced and lacking drive, the ex-Southampton captain was always looking to add a spark to proceedings.
He played a key role in England’s goal, which appeared to set Hodgson’s men on their way to a routine victory.
Producing a trademark Cruyff turn – fitting, given the tribute paid to the late Dutch footballing legend at Wembley – Lallana then found Kyle Walker with an inch-perfect pass inside the penalty area, with the Tottenham man squaring for Jamie Vardy to score.
The guile and unpredictability shown by Lallana epitomised his good recent form, and there is something very un-English about the way he plays the game.
A Vincent Janssen penalty and a close-range finish from Luciano Narsingh stunned the hosts in the second half, however, with Hodgson and his team brought crashing back down to earth.
It was a night that further enhanced Lallana’s chances of starting for England at Euro 2016, though, and on this evidence, he will be a key figure for Liverpool between now and the end of the season.
The same cannot be said of James Milner – captain on the night – who was woeful from start to finish. His corners, in particular, were embarrassingly bad.
Daniel Sturridge had a quiet evening, but his clever dummy did play a small part in Vardy’s opener, while Nathaniel Clyne was introduced at left-back for a late cameo. Jordan Henderson didn’t feature at all.