Young and Oxlade-Chamberlain help Hodgson's England to win
Ashley Young scores only goal as Hodgson gets off to an uneventful start
Norway 0 England 1. Not a good night for Norway. Last in the Eurovision Song Contest and last in their friendly against England in Oslo. The English can hardly gloat, however. Engelbert Humperdinck finished second from bottom in the crooning competition and there was little to get excited about, except an early goal and an encouraging cameo from Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as they ground out a 1-0 win in Roy Hodgson's first match in charge as manager.
But it was a win, the first time England have beaten Norway for 32 years, and it will help Hodgson's side build some momentum ahead of the European Championships in two weeks' time. "It was a marvellous start to my career as England manager because I know how hard it is to win in Norway," said Hodgson afterwards, adding: "It is a long time since Norway have lost at home."
Ashley Young scored the only goal of the game (above) on nine minutes, the Manchester United attacker left Brede Hangeland for dead on a surging run that ended with him slotting the ball past Rune Almenning Jarstei in the Norwegian goal.
But as is so often the case with England, playing in a 4-4-2 formation, they failed to build on their early superiority and both Young and his strike partner Andy Carroll faded as the game went on. In midfield the form of Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing was as disappointing in Oslo as it has been at Anfield for much of the season, and Hodgson would have been expecting more from Gerrard, his captain, who was guilty of giving away possession too often.
There were some positives to take for Hodgson, however, with centre-backs Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott dealing confidently with the limited Norwegian attack. There was also an encouraging cameo from 18-year-old Arsenal winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who replaced Young for the last 20 minutes for his first cap, and showed glimpses of the same bold enterprise that he has for the Gunners.
All-in-all, Hodgson declared himself satisfied with his first match as manager, telling reporters: "I'm not prepared to be critical of the team in any way. I'm also aware it's a work in progress. After only three days with the team, we have come here and given a more than reasonable performance at a place where everyone has told me it is very difficult to get a result."
With England's Chelsea contingent set to join the squad this week the line-up for Hodgson's next match, against Belgium at Wembley next Saturday, will different to the one on display last night, and there will be further changes before England face France in Donetsk on 11 June in their championship opener.
"I am not prepared to say what the [strike] partnership for France is going to be," said Hodgson, who praised the performances of Carroll and Young. "We know it won't be Rooney but [Danny] Welbeck will be coming along and we have Jermain Defoe. So we are in a comfortable position. Even Theo Walcott could play there."
There was good and bad news for England fans after the match. Gareth Barry is a doubt for the Euros after limping off in the second half and he will undergo a scan to determine the extent of the injury.
On the plus side, Germany lost 5-3 to Switzerland in their first friendly of the summer. ·