Roy Hodgson heartened by England’s good show against Peru

Daniel Sturridge curling opener followed by setpiece strikes from Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill

England’s Daniel Sturridge (right) scores a goal during their international friendly soccer match against Peru at Wembley Stadium in London. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

England’s Daniel Sturridge (right) scores a goal during their international friendly soccer match against Peru at Wembley Stadium in London. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

 

England 3 Peru 0 As send-offs go, England’s final appearance at Wembley before the World Cup should at least encourage the belief Roy Hodgson’s team are in reasonable shape before they set off on the next leg of their preparations.

They fly to Miami on Sunday, for warm-up games against Ecuador and Honduras, and Hodgson is entitled to feel heartened by the confidence his team displayed, albeit against limited opponents.

Daniel Sturridge’s first-half goal put them on their way before the two centre-halves, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, both scored within five minutes of one another from Leighton Baines’s corners in the second half.

England moved the ball well but, more than anything, they played with a good tempo and structure. A delegation was here from Italy, ahead of the opening game of Group D in Manaus on June 14th, and they must have been impressed for the most part with the fluidity of Hodgson’s side.

Two officials from the Italian football federation, conspicuous because of the crest on their blazers, were positioned just in front of the press box, busily making notes. Hodgson intends to make a personal check on Cesare Prandelli’s team when they play Republic of Ireland at Craven Cottage tonight.

Hodgson made a good point when he said these friendlies only offer the occasional clues and that it is wrong to read too much into them. Yet it is fair to assume Sturridge’s name will be underlined in all those Italian scribblings. His goal was a peach. Sturridge has that wonderful knack of not being dispirited when his shooting becomes a little awry. Earlier in the match, he had flashed England’s first good chance wide from a position when he would normally be expected to score. Steven Gerrard then tried to play him in but the ball clipped the back of Sturridge’s heels and another opportunity was lost. Yet Sturridge is never afraid to back his own ability when the ball is on his left foot, and when he strikes the ball this cleanly he can be forgiven for those occasions when wastefulness, and in the worst moments a touch of greed, enters his play.

Glen Johnson had taken a quick throw-in on the right and, from that position, there seemed absolutely no danger to the Peru goal. Sturridge turned inside, away from the first challenge, and started heading across a line just outside the penalty area. He went past the nearest defender, Alexander Callens, and it was a curling left-foot shot, struck with power and precision to pick out the top corner.

Sturridge’s link-up play with Wayne Rooney is still a work in progress but it does not tend to matter that much when England have front players who can deliver goals of this expertise.

Just as encouragingly for Hodgson, there was more evidence that Joe Hart is over that long, erratic period when opposition teams might have been forgiven for thinking he made England vulnerable.

Hart spared his team the embarrassment of going behind with a one-handed save to claw away Jean Deza’s shot, after a looping deflection off Jagielka’s heel. Later in the half, there was another fine piece of goalkeeping as Hart came off his goal-line to close down Luis Ramirez and block his effort.

Gerrard, on his 34th birthday, had a lot of the ball and Jordan Henderson was tidy enough. Adam Lallana looked bright and lively and Johnson’s willingness to join him on the wing was another feature.

Baines did not play with the same adventure, which is a shame as it is his attacking play that has helped him see off Ashley Cole. However, he did show that set-piece delivery is a useful weapon. Cahill scored with a header direct from one of those inswingers and when Baines put one in from the opposite side the goalkeeper, Raul Fernandez, dropped the ball at Jagielka’s feet for him to score his first England goal. Guardian Service

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