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.
Scorer: England - Rooney (pen 68)
Just 40,181 turned up to the national stadium to watch England register a 1-0 win thanks to Rooney’s 69th minute penalty.
It was the lowest England crowd at the new Wembley by more than eight thousand and six of the last seven Johnstone’s Paint Trophy finals have been better attended. And the majority of the fans who came to north-west London on Wednesday 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.
Hart had earlier saved a low drive from Mats Daehli and the England goalkeeper managed to deny Joshua King with an acrobatic dive. Some sloppy defending from Chelsea’s Gary Cahill also allowed King to race into the box, but he could not convert.
Then England were thrown a lifeline in the 67th minute when Omar Elabdellaoui slid in late on Sterling and the referee pointed to the spot.
Rooney stepped up and launched the ball past Nyland with his right foot.
The goal released the pressure and England finally started to play with attacking intent.
Welbeck, who came on for Rooney, drew a good save from Norway’s goalkeeper.
Fabian Delph and Calum Chambers both came on for their debuts and Cahill went off to receive ice to his foot.
The game petered out and those that had remained in the stadium for the final whistle greeted the end with barely audible cheers.
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.
And the manager may also have to shuffle his pack for his first Euro 2016 qualifier next week too as Cahill came off late on with an ankle problem.
England: Hart, Stones, Jones, Cahill, Baines, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Wilshere, Sterling, Rooney, Sturridge.Subs: Forster, Rose, Jagielka, Chambers, Milner, Delph, Townsend, Welbeck, Lambert.
Norway: Nyland, Elabdellaoui, Nordtveit, Forren, Linnes, Skjelbred, Johansen, Jenssen, Daehli, King, T Elyounoussi. Subs: Jarstein, Semb Berge, Hagen, Flo, Samuelsen, Pedersen, Konradsen, Nielsen, Tettey, M. Elyounoussi, Kamara, Hansen.