Hodgson defends England's limp win

Hodgson defends England's limp win
England manager Roy Hodgson.

England manager Roy Hodgson mounted an impassioned defence of his team after they laboured to a 1-0 victory over Norway in their first game since the World Cup.

Wayne Rooney marked his first match as captain with a decisive 68th-minute penalty, but it was one of only two shots on target that England mustered during a low-key friendly at Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.

Only 40,181 fans - less than half of Wembley's capacity - turned up to watch England produce an uninspired display four days before their first Euro 2016 qualifier away to Switzerland.

The BBC noted that "the lowest turnout for an England international at the new Wembley underlined the extent to which England have lost the public's imagination".

But Hodgson refused to succumb to the mood of apathy.

"Two shots on target? Don't give me that one," he snapped at a journalist during a tetchy post-game media conference.

"What about all the shots that people (Norway's defenders) threw themselves in the way of? What about the little ball when (Daniel) Sturridge is played in, lobs the goalkeeper, lands on the crossbar?

"Don't hit me with statistics. When we had that much possession, and you want to talk to me about two shots on target?"

Danny Welbeck, a replacement for Rooney, was the only other England player to test Norway goalkeeper Orjan Haskjold Nyland with a shot on goal.

Hodgson was also forced to defend his new captain, admitting that Rooney had not had one of his best days.

"It was a big night for Wayne," said Hodgson. "There was a lot of responsibility weighing on his shoulders.

"Wayne will tell you he can play better than that and have better games. But you're not always going to give the best performance, and you don't become a bad player if you don't put in the performance you wanted."

Rooney, whose 41st international goal took him above Michael Owen in his country's all-time scorers' list, conceded that England's start to the match had been "really sloppy".

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