The 68,573-strong Wembley crowd managed to replicate the atmosphere of Sunday’s League Cup final following a touching minute’s applause to Sir Tom Finney.
But neither team responded and a dull first half unfolded.
Roy Hodgson’s suspect line-up did not help. Daniel Sturridge, one of five Liverpool players in the home team, started wide and just nine minutes in he was stationed at left-back, defending Lars Jacobsen’s cross.
Just as some supporters started heading for the exits, Sturridge won the game for England.
Sterling found Lallana with a short corner and the Southampton midfielder lifted a delightful chip into the box which Sturridge converted. It was just his third England goal.
The relief inside was palpable as Sturridge swayed his hips in celebration.
However, if England are to enjoy the Samba in Brazil this summer they will have to play much better.
Sturridge vowed to continuing working hard for England wherever he is asked to do so by Hodgson.
“It was a good goal, but more important the way that the team played. It is not about myself or my individual attributes, it is about the team, and the result we got,” Sturridge said.
“Whichever system the manager plays me in, I will put my all into it, 100 per cent.
“It does not matter where I play on the field, it is about making a difference, making an impact and I will just keep trying to get goals and assists from whatever position I am in.
“It was about the team.”