Thursday 21 September 2017

Sturridge sparkles but concern over rusty Rooney

England 3 Peru 0

Steven Gerrard congratulates Daniel Sturridge after the England striker opened the scoring against Peru at Wembley with a subline curled effort into the top corner. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Steven Gerrard congratulates Daniel Sturridge after the England striker opened the scoring against Peru at Wembley with a subline curled effort into the top corner. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Raul Fernandez of Peru fumbles the ball leading to the third goal scored by Phil Jagielka of England
Gary Cahill of England heads in their second goal
Peru's goalkeeper Raul Fernandez (R) dives but fails to save a curling shot from England's forward Daniel Sturridge for the opening goal
Phil Jagielka of England scores their third goal

Henry Winter at Wembley

After a night when some of the fans' entertainment stemmed from how far they could get paper-darts on to the pitch, England will fly out to Miami tomorrow to make their final preparations knowing they've yet to have full lift-off as a potential World Cup force.

Daniel Sturridge scored a sublime goal and centre-halves Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka plundered second-half goals from Leighton Baines' corners, but there were concerns in the sketchy display of Glen Johnson at right-back and Wayne Rooney's rustiness.

The sense of the World Cup hurtling into vision had been reflected by the fact this friendly was being televised live on Brazilian TV.

The sound of the clock ticking towards England's June 14 opener against Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo & Co was also unmistakable, although the weather was hardly Manaus.

Two representatives of the Italian FA had taken up their seats amongst those England fans forming their mosaic before kick-off.

One of the smartly-dressed pair held up his mobile phone to record the home supporters singing the National Anthem before settling back to watch England stutter until Sturridge's wonderful 32nd-minute goal.

Before then, there were pointers to Hodgson's intentions for Brazil. Here was confirmation that he plans to use 4-2-3-1. England's manager has been involved in the establishing of a consistent style amongst the England age-groups.

Steven Gerrard sat deep, looking to take the ball from the back. On his 34th birthday, Gerrard was making his 110th international appearance. Echoing Brendan Rodgers, Hodgson fielded Jordan Henderson alongside Gerrard.

Henderson was given a chance to show he should start ahead of Jack Wilshere against Italy. Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana filled the wide roles, although England missed the pacy, direct running of Raheem Sterling.

Until Sturridge lifted the mood after half an hour, the best chances had fallen to Peru. Those myriad concerns about England's back-line continued. When England's defence was caught square, Joe Hart was out quickly to seize the ball ahead of Jean Deza.

Having showed his anticipation, England's 'keeper then demonstrate his athleticism, moving his feet quickly, dropping back and catching a Deza shot that had deflected off Jagielka.

SUBDUED

Rooney had a half that could be most politely described as subdued. Sturridge, though, was beginning to move into more threatening positions and was unfortunate that Gerrard's header hit his heel and the moment was lost.

On a night of lessons, there was another reminder of the lessons needing learning heading into the World Cup, particularly surrounding the style of tackling.

Although the Hungarian referee, Viktor Kassai, is not going to Brazil, he showed two yellows for a couple of challenges.

Rinaldo Cruzado was booked for flying into Gerrard. England's captain had also been alive to the danger, able to ride the inelegant challenge but his displeasure was clear. Gerrard then launched himself on Deza, deservedly following Cruzado into the book.

Kassai was soon registering a goal in his book. It stemmed from a quick thrown-in from Johnson. It was a foul throw and there was a second ball on the pitch, but the officials ignored all that and Sturridge was not hanging around.

The Liverpool striker collected the ball on the right, shuffled his feet to deceive Yoshimar Yotun before angling his run across the box.

Sturridge was too quick and that trusted left foot came down, sending the ball curling past Raul Fernandez.

It was Sturridge's fourth goal in his 11 internationals, and his 28th in 38 games this season for England and Liverpool.

The first half simply showed that England have an attacking threat in Sturridge but needed Rooney to raise his game.

The half closed with another concerning sign of vulnerability at the back, this time with Johnson's failure to remember the offside rule.

Luis Ramirez run through unchecked, and only Hart's shrewdness, spotting the danger, spreading himself and saving with his left foot rescued England.

The second half brought comfort and concern. Again Johnson was caught out of position, and the Italian FA spies – if you can be a secret agent in an Azzurri blazer – will have seen how easily Peru were able to counter-attack down the left.

England are short of options at right-back, barring starting Phil Jones while Chris Smalling has lost some of his confidence. Jagielka came across smartly to cover after another Johnson mistake.

England's centre-halves then took control of the goalscoring.

Cahill moved stealthily in the box to meet Baines' corner, heading it powerfully past Raul Fernandez after 65 minutes.

Five minutes later, Baines then curled in another corner, Fernandez totally misjudged it, allowing Jagielka to strike the ball back past the Peru keeper and into the net.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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