Captain Wayne Triggers Lacklustre Victory

[Graham Chadwick]

England 1-0 Norway

In Wayne Rooney’s first match as permanent England captain, the Manchester United skipper scored a second half penalty to deny Norway a shock away draw. Joe Hart saved well from striker Joshua King’s header as England won their first match of their last six fixtures.

After England’s dismal World Cup campaign, only 40, 000 people, the smallest attendance for the new Wembley, saw England play Norway in a friendly international last night. The match gave young Everton defender John Stones a first start, playing out of position at right back. Starting much more sharply than many England matches, their first few chances were blocked by the Norwegians, putting their bodies on the line. The most distinct early chance fell to striker Daniel Sturridge. After getting between two opponents on the right wing, he saw the run of Raheem Sterling. Sterling then backheeled the ball back to Sturridge, whose shot was a tame pass, and was blocked by the first man. A few minutes later, Jack Wilshere played a looping pass which found Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He controlled but Martin Linnes defended excellently. Like the first chance, when Sterling received the ball from Oxlade-Chamberlain, he played a slipped ball to Leighton Baines, whose shot was as tame as Sturridge, and was therefore similarly blocked.

The very early stage of the second half is all that belonged to the Nordic visitors. A corner for Norway was met very well       by Blackburn Rovers striker Joshua King, whose backwards header was expertly tipped away by the fingertips of goalkeeper Joe Hart. The Three Lions had three possible penalty chances on the night, and the third, won by official ‘Man of the Match’ Sterling was given by the referee Jorge Sousa of Portugal. Jack Wilshere’s short stroll ended up with felling centre-midfielder Jordan Henderson. Henderson’s mid-range pass found left-winger Sterling, who darted into eighteen-yard box. He was harshly taken down by right-back Omar Elabdellaoui of Olympiacos in Greece. Wayne Rooney stepped up to take the resulting spot kick. His shot was utterly venomous and was practically ‘unsavable’. England went one goal up.

After the goal, England made three substitutions. Bringing on debutant Fabian Delph [of Aston Villa], new Arsenal man Danny Welbeck and James Milner, off went Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and goal scorer Rooney. Raheem Sterling, after earning the penalty looked in the mood to create a few more clear-cut chances. His chipped ball met Danny Welbeck, who passed Flo and Forren before releasing one of only two on target shots on the night. From a tight angle, the £16m signing forced a parry from Nyland to deny a second goal.

That proved the last chance and England now travel to Basel, Switzerland in good spirits before their Euro qualifier, having only just overcome Norway, 1-0, thanks to a penalty from the new fulltime captain Wayne Rooney.

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