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England 1, Norway 0: Dull, Uninspiring, Victory

In the end England won thanks to Raheem Sterling drawing a penalty, but taken in its entirety it would be hard to find a more dull and unimpressive victory.

Jamie McDonald
England 1 Rooney 68' (pen.)
Norway 0

Talk of an experimental 4-3-3 or even a diamond formation was widespread heading into the match. It soon made way for the same old 4-4-2 Roy Hodgson has spent his career perfecting. The results, needless to say, were rather dire, and neither England nor their Norwegian guests managed to look especially dangerous. That it was about what most would have expected didn't make it any less disappointing.

A brief bit of interplay between Sturridge and Sterling, a back-heel to give the striker room for a curled effort that Norway's centre half just managed to block, was as close as England came to a goal in a very dull opening period. Then, later in the half, Sterling again sent Sturridge in, this time with a ball over the top. Unfortunately for England, the striker couldn't control before the goalkeeper closed him down.

It was an early sign that any success this England side may have is likely to come from club-level partnerships, as the squad as a whole showed few signs of being able to play as a cohesive unit. The late signs weren't much better, at least until Sterling drew a penalty half way through the second half that Wayne Rooney converted, giving the hosts a narrow and not entirely deserved lead on the run of play.

With the goal scored, Norway faded and England began to look better, but one moment of individual skill and the win it brought doesn't change just how poor England looked for the majority of the match against a very average opponent. In the end, then, a win, but an unimpressive one that says fans of the national side should prepare themselves for another painfully uninspiring two-year cycle on route to Euro 2016.

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