England vs. Norway: Winners and Losers from International Friendly
It took a Wayne Rooney penalty for England to edge Norway 1-0 at Wembley on Wednesday.
Raheem Sterling, who was generally the best player on the pitch over the 90 minutes, drew the spot-kick when he was hauled to ground by Omar Elabdellaoui in the 67th minute.
Overall, however, the Three Lions were generally poor on the night, and but for some heroics from Joe Hart shortly after the restart they might have found themselves behind following Joshua King’s pair of shots from in close.
Following are some of the winners and losers from the match.
Winner: Raheem Sterling, Who Was Man of the Match Against Norway
No England player—or Norway player, for that matter—was as consistently dangerous as Raheem Sterling on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old’s movement was typically useful and his passes accurate, and he also lent a hand on the defensive side of the ball when the situation required.
In the 67th minute his drive into the box was halted by Elabdellaoui’s foul, and as a result Rooney stepped up to put England in front.
Loser: Wayne Rooney, Who Scored but Was Generally Poor
Wayne Rooney scored his 41st goal for England on Wednesday—a successful conversion from the penalty spot following Elabdellaoui’s foul on Sterling.
It was his final kick of the match, and despite putting his team in front it was lost on no one that England played noticeably better following his withdrawal.
Daniel Sturridge, it would seem, prefers to work with Sterling and Danny Welbeck, but with Rooney having been appointed England captain, manager Roy Hodgson finds himself in an awkward position.
Winner: Havard Nordtveit, Who Was Heroic in Defense for Norway
England struggled to create a meaningful chance of note until Sterling won his penalty, but until his side went 1-0 down Norway defender Havard Nordtveit had been a primary reason for the guests’ stinginess in defense.
Over the 90 minutes the 24-year-old won all of his aerial battles, per WhoScored.com, and also passed the ball accurately out of the defense.
He repeatedly dug out long, arcing passes intended for Rooney or Sturridge, and late in the first half he made a last-ditch tackle on Jack Wilshere without conceding a penalty.
Loser: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Who Did Next to Nothing
If England’s match against Norway raised the curtain on a new era of international football for the Three Lions, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was supposed to be one of the primary figures in the plot.
Instead, he was a ghost.
Over his 69 minutes of action at Wembley the Arsenal winger failed to take a single shot (never mind place one on target) and didn’t link up well at all with his attacking teammates.
It was an immensely disappointing night for the 21-year-old.
Winner: Joe Hart, Who Kept England in It
Joe Hart saved England’s blushes with a pair of saves early in the second half.
As it turned out, they were the only saves he’d have to make over the course of his side’s 1-0 win over Norway on Wednesday, and both came off Joshua King.
First, he had to dive to his left to deny King’s goal-bound header, and just minutes later—following a Gary Cahill giveaway—he collapsed to the ground to stop the Norway attacker’s meek effort from in close.
Loser: Leighton Baines, Who Replicated His World Cup Form
Leighton Baines had a decent enough second half, but during the opening period he looked every bit the struggling left-back who so failed to impress at the 2014 World Cup.
His free-kick attempt in the 20th minute—an effort from meaningful distance that ballooned high over the crossbar—was laughable, and he routinely struggled opposite Mats Daehli and Omar Elabdellaoui.
No doubt Hodgson would have loved to have had the option of bringing Luke Shaw into the match, but the Manchester United left-back remains sidelined through injury.