Our World Cup reporter Tom Blackburn reports on a good night for England at Wembley.
England began their preparations for the 2014 World Cup with a tepid 3-0 victory over Peru at Wembley, before they head out to Brazil later this week.
A superb individual goal from Daniel Sturridge and goals from centre-backs Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka from Leighton Baines corners were the difference on the night, but England were never really forced to exert themselves.
The first half was typical of a pre-tournament encounter, with England struggling to build momentum and twice in the first 20 minutes having anxious moments that against a more talented and clinical side may have resulted in them going behind. However in front of the Wembley crowd England began to exert their authority and came through with confidence.
The lead was taken in the 31st minute following a seemingly innocuous throw-in by Glen Johnson to Liverpool team mate Sturridge. However the striker then held off two defensive challenges before a stunning left footed strike got the Wembley crowd off their seats.
The affair was not entirely dominated by England though, with Peru striker Deza having a shot excellently blocked by Jagielka in the 54th minute. Yet that, and a long ranged Deza effort shortly before, were as close as the South Americans came in the second half.
Manager Hodgson, brought on Jack Wilshere to replace captain Steven Gerrard who had picked up a yellow card in the 64th minute and shortly after the England lead was extended. Baines’ out swinging corner from the right evaded all Peruvian defenders before Cahill out jumped Andrija Vukcevic to plant a header into Raul Fernandez’s net.
Fernandez was at fault for England’s final goal minutes later when whilst collecting a Baines corner, the keeper fumbled the ball into Jagielka’s path who made no mistake in front of goal.
Late on in the encounter John Stone was given his debut by Hodgson, replacing fellow Everton team mate Baines at left-back.
The match gave manager Roy Hodgson the opportunity to test match fitness and tinker with potential tactics and players. He will be pleased with how Wayne Rooney came through 65 minutes in his first appearance in a month; despite being relatively quiet in advanced positions, the Manchester United forward played confidently and tracked back tirelessly.
Despite Hodgson’s claims on Thursday that Rooney did not have a guaranteed spot in the side, it looks unlikely he will be dropped and his name will almost certainly be joined by most of the starting 11 tonight in the first game against Italy on June 14th.
Ranked 43 in the world, the South Americans were not expected to offer too much resistance to the home side’s threats. Nevertheless, the match was important as it offered practice against opposition that are likely to pose similar dangers as Uruguay and Costa Rica in the World Cup group stages.
England’s next game is against Ecuador on Wednesday and Hodgson will be looking to build momentum whilst warning his players to not become complacent as they approach world football's pinnacle competition in the next few weeks.
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