Man Utd star’s goal the difference as England ease past Norway
21:44 26 May 2012
International Friendly: Norway 0 England 1
Manchester United star Ashley Young scored the only goal of the game as an experimental England side marked Roy Hodgson’s first game in charge with a win over Norway.
The winger scored a wonderful solo goal after nine minutes and it proved to be the difference between the two sides in Oslo.
The win was completed in a businesslike manner but they and the fans know that it’s what happens in Ukraine next month that really matters.
England were devoid of the likes of John Terry, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard after Chelsea’s Champions League final victory as Phil Jagielka, a standby for Euro 2012, was selected in central defence.
Liverpool frontman Andy Carroll was up front on his own and thnearly gave the Three Lions the lead inside the first five minutes but his close-range header went wide.
England took the lead after nine minutes and it came through a wonderful solo effort.
Ashley Young picked up the ball midway through the Norweigan half and ran at the back four.
As Steven Gerrard charged forward, the Manchester United man saw his chance and turned past Brede Hangeland and fired home to give his country the lead.
Norway hit back almost immediately but West Ham goalkeeper Robert Green was on hand to deny Markus Henriksen, tipping the ball wide after diving to his left.
Morten Gamst Pederson’s corner nearly did cause the Hammers star embarrassment as it struck the near post with Green beaten.
For the majority of the first half the game had the feeling of an international friendly as no real opportunities were carved out and the Three Lions went into half time in front.
England captain Gerrard was taken off at half-time with his replacement, Gareth Barry, wearing the armband.
Manchester United midfielder Phil Jones burst forward early in the second half and his shot crashed into the post and rebounded wide.
England had a scare when John Arne Riise broke down the left flank, beating Theo Walcott and Green had to be alert to parry the Fulham defenders shot around the post.
With 72 minutes and 25 seconds on the clock Arsenal youngster Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his first senior appearance for the Three Lions, coming on for Young.
And he nearly had a dream start as produced a fantastic lay-off to Walcott but Norway cleared their lines at the last minute.
Barry was withdrawn with a groin problem, with Euro 2012 stand-by Jordan Henderson replacing him and Joleon Lescott was the latest recipient of the ‘pass the captain’s armband’ shenanigans that have become synonymous with recent England friendlies.
Liverpool full back Martin Kelly was brought on for his England debut in the final two minutes, coming on for Phil Jones.
And the young man did not have any difficult moments as the Three Lions claimed a businesslike victory.
Norway: Jarstein, Hogli (Ruud 40), Demidov, Hangeland, Riise, Tettey, Elyounoussi, Henriksen (Berisha 84), Pedersen (Grindheim 62), Braaten (Huseklepp 74), Abdellaoui.
Substitutes: Pettersen, Madsen, Grindheim, Huseklepp, Jenssen, Berisha.
England: Green, Jones (Kelly 88), Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Milner, Gerrard (Barry 46 (Henderson 73)), Parker (Walcott 56), Downing (Johnson 85), Young (Oxlade-Chamberlain 73), Carroll.
Substitutes: Hart, Defoe.
Goal: Young 9
Referee: Michael Weiner (Germany)