Belfast Telegraph

Wayne Rooney demanding improvement from England

England 1-0 Portugal

By Rory Dollard

England captain Wayne Rooney admits the team needs to improve following a lacklustre 1-0 victory against 10-man Portugal at Wembley in their final Euro 2016 warm-up game.

Rooney started in a front-three with Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy, but Roy Hodgson's side lacked a cutting edge ahead of their European Championship campaign which gets under way against Russia on June 11.

Manchester United defender Chris Smalling's late goal sealed a third victory in as many friendly matches for England.

"We won the game, but it was always difficult for us when Portugal went down to 10 men," said Rooney, who played alongside Kane and Vardy for the first time.

"They made it difficult, but we kept going and we got the win so that was obviously important to us.

"We know in these games there have been a lot of changes. We haven't been at our best, but we have won the three games which is important, especially as a young team.

"We are winning games when we are not playing well. We have to improve and in tournament football you have to improve to win games."

Bruno Alves was sent off in the first half for a dangerous challenge on Kane and Rooney, who will lead England in France later this month, added: "We were the better team, even with 11 v 11, but we need to player better.

"We know that, but it is a good sign when you don't play as well as you can do, but you win the game."

All eyes were on the United captain and the two top scorers in the Premier League Kane and Vardy, but the trio flattered to deceive and Hodgson will be left with a headache over whether to unleash the trio in England's opening match.

"We didn't have many chances, none of us, so it is something the manager is working on and Portugal made it difficult," Rooney added.

"It is a 23-man squad, not three players. It is about all of us, not three of us."

Asked for his opinion on the experiment, Hodgson added: "It went like it went. I am not prepared to add my voice to the debate. I am not prepared to say this is better, or that is better. We need both systems.

"We need all of those players playing well. We need all of those players doing what they can do well.

"Of course in every game of football some people have a really good night, some have a less good night and I am not prepared to criticise some players while praising others.

"I am really happy. The 23 players have really done well and if I start being dissatisfied when we win three games in a row against Turkey, Australia and Portugal then I am going to be a very hard coach to please."

The England supremo added: "It is often a struggle when you play against 10 men. We would have preferred an 11 v 11 game, to flow more in attack and in defence.

"I am pleased we kept our composure and patience, pleased with the clean sheet. The longer the game wore on, we looked more dangerous, looked as if we could score the goal. The result came from a long period of sustained pressure.

"The players worked hard to keep their shape and build attacks. It is our third win and one against a Portugal team ranked higher than us in the Fifa rankings, so no reason to be dissatisfied. Have I decided my best 11? That is difficult and will depend on the night."

England: Hart, Walker, Cahill, Smalling, Rose, Dier, Alli (Henderson 90), Milner (Wilshere 66), Rooney (Lallana 78), Kane (Sturridge 78), Vardy (Sterling 66).

Booked: Cahill.

Goals: Smalling 86.

Portugal: Rui Patricio, Vieirinha, Bruno Alves, Carvalho (Eder 90), Eliseu, Joao Moutinho (William Carvalho 72), Joao Mario (Andre Gomes 46), Danilo Pereira,Nani (Quaresma 61), Rafa (Fonte 38),Adrien Silva (Renato Sanches 72).

Sent Off: Bruno Alves (36).

Booked: Danilo Pereira.

Attendance: 82,503

Ref: Marco Guida (Italy)

Belfast Telegraph