England reverted to the tried and tested 4-2-3-1 for this match despite Wednesday’s successful dalliance with 3-4-3 in the narrow 1-0 loss in Germany, while Lithuania adopted a packed defence.
The decision to start poacher Defoe and the quick Raheem Sterling seemed a smart move in a bid to unlock Edgaras Jankauskas’s men, but early attempts to break through the lines were cut off.
Midfield congestion and poor delivery prevented England turning their 80 per cent possession into a clear-cut opportunity until midway through the first half.
The first chance came courtesy of Lallana’s ingenuity, sending a cutting ball through the Lithuanian backline only for Ernestas Setkus to spread himself well to thwart Defoe.
The danger was not quelled for long, though. Sterling’s directness saw him burst down the left, with his cutback turned home impressively by Defoe.
It was a cool finish that took the widely-travelled striker’s international tally to 20 – a haul he quickly attempted to add to with a 25-yard snapshot which went wide.
Sterling’s trickery threatened to unlock the visitors as England looked to increase their lead – but the opening period ended with a let-off for the home side.
Fedor Cernych’s dragged shot had been Lithuania’s biggest threat – not counting an over-zealous Vaidas Slavickas challenge – until a stoppage-time clearance was powered back towards goal.
Vykintas Slivka somehow avoided both the offside flag and captain Joe Hart, getting a header away that John Stones hacked away before the ball crossed the line.
Sterling and Dele Alli had attempts after the turnaround – but Slivka calling Hart into action highlighted the need for a second goal.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose display was largely underwhelming, saw a curling effort from 25 yards denied by Setkus.
England manager Gareth Southgate made a double change on the hour and the introduction of Marcus Rashford and Vardy – for Sterling and Defoe – paid dividends six minutes later when Vardy finished well after a sublime Lallana touch had turned a Kyle Walker pass into the path of the Leicester striker.
Rashford and Alli had efforts to add to the scoreline, the former booked for handball before sending a lovely ball through which Vardy lifted just over.
Lithuania threatened in fits and starts but it only ever really looked like another goal would come from England, with Eric Dier heading over before full-time was called.