England defeated Norway in last night’s friendly with Norwaythanks to a well taken penalty scored by their newly installed captain WayneRooney. After a bright start to the first half, mainly through neat link upplay between the two Liverpool colleagues, Rayeem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge, the match did little tosuggest that England will be among the favourites for the EuropeanChampionships in two years’ time.

Norway provided only a minimal goal threat themselves inthat first 45 minutes, allowing England to have most of the possession withoutthem being able to make the breakthrough against a resolute defence.

Sturridgelooked most likely to score, having one goalbound shot blocked and another onethat he lifted slightly too high over the onrushing goalkeeper on to the roofof the net.

The second half was a much more even contest, with theNorwegians starting the half on the front foot and drawing an acrobatic saveout of Joe Hart from a Joshua King header.

As the substitutions multiplied through the game, so too didthe number of men taking the captain’s armband, as Rooney handed it over to GaryCahill, and then on to Joe Hart.

The introduction of new Arsenal man, DannyWellbeck seemed to add some much needed impetus to England’s play and he may bein the manager’s thoughts for the next match.

The penalty that decided the game came courtesy of a dartinto the box from man of the match Sterling that lured an ill timed challengefrom Elabdellaoui. Up stepped Rooney to notch his 41st English goalin his ongoing quest to beat Bobby Charlton’s all time goalscoring record,slamming the ball powerfully into the side of the net. 

Rooney’s impact on the game other than the penalty waslimited and a poll conducted by radio channel Talksport the morning after thegame indicated that only 21% of listeners voted for him to start the gameagainst the Swiss.

Roy Hodgson seems likely to persevere with his new captaininto the Euro qualifiers, but will not be oblivious to the doubts that seem tobe evident as to whether Rooney and Sturridge can work in tandem as the strikepartnership.

A less than half full Wembley was reflective of the English public’sgeneral interest in the game and that was mirrored by the fact that nearly fourmillion more viewers watched the Great British Bake Off programme on televisionthan tuned in for the Football.

Indeedthe crowd of just over 40,000 was the lowest since the new stadium opened in2007.

Hodgson will hope for an improved displayagainst the promising Swiss away next Monday in their first Euro qualifyingmatch, knowing that a solid result therewould set his team up well for the later games in the group against San Marino,Estonia, Slovenia and Lithuania.

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