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.
Jack Wilshere (5) – Could have been a very good performance had he showcased a little more guile, but it didn’t really materialise. Wilshere picked the ball up and drove forward in his patented fashion, but his final ball was erratic and he went to ground far too frequently. Was lucky to avoid a booking for a dive in the first half when trying to win a penalty.
Jordan Henderson (6) – Of the new-look midfield pairing it was the Liverpool man who sat deepest and he mopped up any danger the Norwegians posed with diligence. Henderson was typically dynamic and is a player that will be central to the development of this England team. Played an understated role to great effect.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (5) – Not one of his better performances in an England shirt. The Arsenal youngster is a player that’s capable of dazzling in myriad positions across the midfield, but he was unable to see enough of the ball to make any kind of sustained impact here. Provided a pacey outlet, but was a profligate with his final ball.
Raheem Sterling (9) – Drifting in from the left flank, the Liverpool man caused a plethora of problems for the Norwegian back-four. He showcased typically tight dribbling, blistering pace and a keen eye for a pass; his link up with his Reds teammate Daniel Sturridge was mouthwatering to watch at times.
Was England’s best player, but could probably contribute even more from a central position. Did well to win the penalty that yielded England’s goal. Comfortably the Man of the Match.
Wayne Rooney (6) – Good movement early on but struggled to make many inroads against a cohesive Norwegian defence. The new captain worked tremendously hard playing as an orthodox striker alongside Sturridge, but was unable to conjure up anything of note. Took his penalty well, but much more will be expected of Rooney when England tackle the Swiss.
Daniel Sturridge (7) – Typically sharp in the early stages of the contest, the Liverpool man found space well with his scintillating pace and astute movement across the front line. Had a couple of half chances and he’ll be disappointed not to have taken at least one, but he’s a player that looks as though he’s beginning to find his feet at international level.
James Milner (6) – Helped calm England down in the middle of the pitch. His irrepressible commitment and versatility means the City man remains an excellent option to have in the squad.
Fabian Delph (7) - His maiden bow for the national team and he looked far from fazed on the Wembley stage. Another tenacious player who’ll be hoping for more chances to make a push for more regular appearances. Made some excellent challenges and drove England up the pitch.
Danny Welbeck (7) – A sharp turn and shot produced an excellent save from the Norwegian ‘keeper and the new Arsenal forward gave England some much needed impetus when he was introduced. He’s a player that Hodgson has a lot of faith in, and it’ll be no surprise to see him feature from the start against Switzerland from a wide position.
Calum Chambers, Phil Jagielka, Rickie Lamber (N/A) – Didn’t have long enough to make an impression.