Captain James Ward-Prowse made his first senior England start for Gareth Southgate's side during a 1-0 win over Iceland in an empty stadium in Reykjavík.
A game that was simmering for the most part, but came to the boil in the final few minutes, was settled by Raheem Sterling from the penalty spot in second-half stoppage time.
Ward-Prowse completed the full 90, while Danny Ings entered the fray with 22 minutes remaining, replacing young debutante Phil Foden.
Both sides were reduced to ten men late on, with Iceland themselves squandering a chance to equalise from a spot-kick in injury-time, as Birkir Bjarnason blazed way off target.
England next face Denmark in their second group game on Tuesday, 19:45 BST.