Belfast Telegraph

Wayne Rooney admits England are in need of a spark

England 1-0 Norway

By Simon Peach

New captain Wayne Rooney rescued Roy Hodgson from embarrassment as a record-low crowd watched England sneak past Norway in a dull and uninspiring friendly at Wembley.

Just 40,181 turned up to the national stadium to watch England register a 1-0 win thanks to Rooney's 68th minute penalty.

It was the lowest England crowd at the new Wembley by more than 8,000. Six of the last seven Johnstone's Paint Trophy finals have been better attended.

Those who stayed away sent a clear message to Hodgson's team — that they would have to win their support back with an impressive display following the disappointment of the World Cup.

But the majority of the fans who came to north-west London last night will feel they did not get value for money.

England's first shot on target was the one that Rooney rifled past Orjan Haskjold Nyland from 12 yards — and their build-up play was terribly slow at times, particularly in the first half.

It was only when Rooney's penalty hit the back of the net did England start to play anywhere near their best.

Danny Welbeck gave the Arsenal fans in the crowd a glimpse of his potential with a few mazy runs while Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge also showed flashes of positivity.

But Hodgson knows he will need too see an improvement from his men to win in Switzerland on Monday and to get the crowds flocking back to Wembley again.

Captain Rooney admitted that England “could have done better”.

Following their disappointing World Cup campaign where they exited at the group stage, Rooney admitted his performance had been lacklustre.

“I thought I could have done better. We all could have done better,” Rooney said.

“It's the first game after the World Cup and it was important that we got the win.

“In the first half we moved quite well but they made it difficult for us and sat back and created a few opportunities in the first half.

“In the second half we started really sloppy and that was disappointing as we wanted to go out and really take the game to them.

“We got the win in the end and there are a lot of young players in this team and we will learn. They are still learning.”

Boss Hodgson was more optimistic after the win.

He said: "We probed very well in the first half and asked a lot of questions. We started the second half poorly for 15 minutes, and Joe Hart had to make a few saves.

"But luckily we got ourselves going again with Danny Welbeck and Fabian Delph and got on top. We were good value for the win.

"Raheem Sterling can consider playing through the middle. It's good to have those options. We changed the system quite radically with 25 minutes to go and that worked well. With a bit of luck we would have aggravated the score."

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