An abominably boring match saw England scrape a 1-0 victory against Norway at a half-empty Wembley Stadium.
Looking to impress the fans after their poor performance at the World Cup, England served up a staggeringly lacklustre first 70 minutes. Steven Gerrard might have retired, but Wayne Rooney was just as capable of failing to inspire, instruct or take charge of his England side. Indeed, he was one of the worst players on the pitch - at one point standing on the ball in the box to end an attack, and then losing the ball with his subsequent pass.
The only surprise in the first half was that the Wembley crowd of just 40,181 (the lowest at Wembley for an England game since it reopened in 2007) did not boo the team off. Only the Liverpool duo of Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling impressed.
In the second half, Rooney broke the deadlock after Sterling was tripped in the box, converting with a well-taken penalty. Once Rooney was subbed, England came alive, with verve and penetration around the box, but couldn’t add to the score.
Fabian Delph and Calum Chambers came on to make their debuts but England have plenty of problems and Rooney is the biggest.
Wayne Rooney England v Norway (Getty)
21’ - ELYOUNOUSSI SHOT - Tarik Elyounoussi collects a loose ball on the edge of the box, and sends a low shot for Joe Hart to save.
30’ - STURRIDGE MISS - Sterling lifts a ball over the top for Sturridge to chase, but his lob lands on the top of the net.
40’ - PENALTY APPEAL - Jack Wilshere appears to go to ground because of a late tackle from Harvard Nordtveit, but the referee allows play to go on.
50’ - HART SAVE - Josh King glances a corner towards goal that Hart excellently tips behind for a corner
53’ - KING CHANCE - Cahill loses the ball, King intercepts and drives towards goal, but flicks the ball from a tight angle at Hart.
67’ - PENALTY! - Omar Elabdellaoui is cleaned out by Sterling as he drives towards the byline - it's possible that he got a touch to the ball, but the referee awards the penalty.
68’ - ROONEY GOAL - Rooney smashes a penalty high and left into the goal. A terrible performance but possibly the one that wins the match.
73’ - WELBECK CHANCE - Danny Welbeck brings down a high ball with good technique, muscles his way past two defenders, but takes the ball too far wide and his shot from a tight angle is saved.
This was the lowest ever attendance for an England match at the new Wembley Stadium - 40,181 attended.
Wayne Rooney had the fewest passes of any English outfield player, the lowest pass completion rate and the fewest touches in the first half.
Wayne Rooney moved ahead of Michael Owen in the scoring charts with his 41st international goal.
How much longer can Rooney be indulged? The transformation in performance when Rooney left was instant. For club and country Rooney offers none of his former spark, creativity or passion. The reaction across the country indicates that the penny is starting to drop for everyone. It might have already been noticed at Manchester United, who signed Radamel Falcao.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Raheem Sterling v Norway (Reuters)
Raheem Sterling (England): Sterling won the penalty for England with perhaps his most prosaic dribble of the night, a simple dash to the byline. Wayne Rooney used to be able to terrify defences and keep the ball by his side at any pace, England must pray the same decline does not take hold of the excellent Sterling.
England: Hart 6; Stones 6, Jones 6, Cahill 6, Baines 5; Oxlade-Chamberlain 5, Henderson 6, Wilshere 5, Sterling 8, Rooney 4, Sturridge 6. Subs: Milner 6, Delph 6, Chambers 6, Lambert 6, Welbeck 6.
Norway: Nyland 6, Elabdellaoui 6, Nordtveit 6, Forren 6, Linnes 6, Skjelbred 6; Johansen 5, Yttergard 5, Jenssen 6, Dæhli 6, King 6; T. Elyounoussi 5. Subs: Flo 5, Konradsen 6, M. Elyounoussi 6, Nielsen 6, Kamara 6, Gamst Pedersen 5.
THE MATCH IN A TWEET
- Sports & Recreation
- Wayne Rooney
- Raheem Sterling