England’s self proclaimed new era got off to a stuttering start, as the Three Lions put in an unconvincing performance against Norway at Wembley. Wayne Rooney spared Roy Hodgson’s blushes with a second half penalty, and the hosts eventually ran out 1-0 winners.
Just 40,000 people—the lowest ever for an England game at the new Wembley Stadium—rocked up at the home of football to watch this friendly clash, and with a European Championships qualifying match with Switzerland looming, here’s how the England players fared against their Scandinavian opponents. (Ratings out of 10).
Joe Hart (7) – With England camped in the Norway half for long spells during the first half, the Manchester City ‘keeper had very little to do in the opening 45 minutes. But he sprung into life in the second half and was forced to make two excellent saves to deny Josh King.
John Stones (7) – Has struggled at right-back during his appearances there in an Everton shirt, but looked very comfortable slotting in in England colours. Typically composed on the ball and willing to get forward, it was a very promising performance from the 20-year-old. If he does start in Switzerland, it’ll be be a much sterner test of his credentials at full-back, though.
Phil Jones (6) – The United man will be hoping to nail down a regular berth in the starting XI, and he did a decent job next to Gary Cahill at the heart of the back four. There were a couple of hairy moments when Norwegian defenders ran in behind him, but all-in-all, it was a well-rounded display. He’ll improve with regular football at club level, which he looks set to get under Louis van Gaal.
Gary Cahill (7) – Well established as England’s premier central defender now, and he took responsibility with a commanding performance here. Was on hand plenty of times to mop up behind Stones and Jones during the Norwegians’ rare forays forward into Three Lions territory, although an unfortunate slip in the second period was nearly very costly for England.
Leighton Baines (6) – Took a few hefty knocks from the Norwegian opponents during the first half, but his link-up down the left-hand side with Raheem Sterling will have encouraged Hodgson. Always bursting forward, studious at the back but he’ll be disappointed with his final ball, a facet of his display that was uncharacteristically poor.