England down Norway
OSLO, May 26, 2012 (AFP) - Roy Hodgson made a winning start to his reign as England manager here Saturday after an Ashley Young goal gave his side a 1-0 victory over Norway at the Ullevaal Stadium.
Hodgson, who only took over as the successor to Fabio Capello earlier this month, saw his experimental England side record their first win over Norway for 32 years in a largely lacklustre encounter.
With only four or five of Saturday's starting England XI likely to feature in their opening Euro 2012 Group D game against France on June 11, Hodgson was given the opportunity to run the rule over several fringe members of his squad.
However despite an encouraging opening spell from striker Andy Carroll and another goal-scoring contribution from Young, there were few major English success stories in a low-key contest.
England had got off to a flying start with Young firing the visitors ahead after only nine minutes following a swift break upfield.
Carroll won the first of several aerial battles of the opening period and released the Manchester United midfielder into space.
Young still had plenty to do but twisted and turned away from the covering Norwegian defence -- distracted by England's fast-arriving support -- and shot low into the bottom corner past Rune Almenning Jarstein.
England goalkeeper Rob Green -- making his first start since his blunder against the United States at the 2010 World Cup -- was forced into a nervous save moments later when he tipped Markus Henriksen's shot wide.
Green was given a scare from Morten Gamst Pedersen's subsequent corner, which had the England goalkeeper scrambling before it cannoned off the near post.
England looked comfortable for the remainder of the half, and should have done better with another promising counter attack on 34 minutes when James Milner chose to shoot instead of squaring to the unmarked Carroll.
England captain Steven Gerrard then earned the opprobrium of the home crowd for a rugged and risky challenge on Norway's right back Tom Hogli that forced the defender to withdraw from the contest.
Gerrard was fortunate to escape censure from German referee Michael Weiner but was nevertheless booed relentlessly for the remainder of the half.
That was to be Gerrard's last involvement of the night, with Hodgson replacing his skipper with Gareth Barry at the interval.
England struggled to build any sort of momentum for much of the second half, their only meaningful chance coming from Leighton Baines' 48th-minute low curling free-kick which was saved by Jarstein.
The introduction of Theo Walcott for Scott Parker gave England some badly needed pace down the right flank, but the Arsenal midfielder struggled to impose himself on proceedings.
As England toiled, Norway grew in confidence and Riise raised the home crowd's hopes when he forced Green into a near-post save on 62 minutes.
However the game fizzled out as England emptied their substitutes bench, replacements which saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Martin Kelly make their senior debuts late on.
England also had an injury scare when Barry, who had replaced Gerrard, was himself taken off midway through the second half.