England Vs. Norway: Hodgson Debut Ends In Victory

Roy Hodgson was a victor in his first game in charge as England beat Norway 1-0 in Oslo. England, though, were utterly uninspiring, looking like they couldn't complete three passes in succession for large parts of the second half. It didn't start out badly; after 7 minutes, a long clearance was controlled by Andy Carroll, who's flick sent Ashley Young in on goal. Young easily went past Brede Hangeland before going across the keeper into the bottom right corner. It was an excellent goal from an excellent player, who, without Wayne Rooney, is easily England's best player.

England had a few other opportunities in the first half; Stewart Downing's excellent cross was headed wide by Andy Carroll, and Young volleyed over the goal after Steven Gerrard volleyed a pass to him. Despite the indiscipline from Gerrard, and, to a lesser extent, Scott Parker, Norway didn't trouble Rob Green in goal, though Morten Gamst Pedersen hit the outside of the post directly from a corner. The only other event of note was Steven Gerrard injuring Tom Høgli with a studs-up follow through.

The second half, though, was completely different. England stood off Norway, who peppered the England goal with shots. None were close to causing Green trouble, but it does seem concerning that England were unable to dominate proceedings against a clearly inferior side; this doesn't bode well for Euro 2012, especially against teams like France and even Sweden. Unlike the first half, Downing and Young had no impact on the match, and Phil Jones was constantly caught out at right back, prompting one to wonder how Micah Richards wasn't selected ahead of him. The rest of the back four, featuring Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Joleon Lescott were much stronger, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked promising enough on his international debut. Aside from that, there aren't many things to be confident about with England; Andy Carroll could barely win headers, which is the only thing he's very good at. They couldn't hold the ball for much of the game, and against better sides, their midfield will be found out.

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