Daniel Sturridge scored a late header to earn England a 1-0 win at Wembley against Denmark, after he was set up by Southampton captain Adam Lallana, who came on as a a subsititute. Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling was named man of the match in the match and the firework shown by the young side would prove to be a dilemna for Roy Hodgson as this was the last game before he has to name his World Cup squad.
“The second-half performance in particular, the young players, the energy we brought to the game, and the determination to get beyond a packed Danish defence even though we’d done it on quite a few occasions only to find a goalkeeper [Kasper Schmeichel] in outstanding form, those were the positives,” said Hodgson.
“The victory, too, and the fact we put a lot of youngish players on the pitch who haven’t played a lot for England, and they did a good job and improved their chances. The level of competition is getting greater.
“I wanted the young players to have a chance to get out there and play and I’m sure Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana will go back to Southampton feeling very positive. Lallana was very good. Very, very good. But we’ve been building this up over the last couple of years. This wasn’t the first time Raheem Sterling has got a game, or Jordan Henderson, Adam Lallana, Chris Smalling or Jack Wilshere. I’d just like to think these players will grow in confidence playing in the Premier League for their club sides over the remainder of the season.
“This was an important game tonight, and it was important we put in a good performance. I wanted a level of energy, with players running back when they lost the ball, making tackles from the wrong side, not being afraid to make mistakes knowing, with their pace, they can recover. That’s what I did see, and we put the icing on the cake with the goal to win it. The younger players are doing well at the moment. Hopefully people will be impressed with their performances, and I’ll have to make a decision going forward.”
Lallana’s cameo was second most impressive, first being young Raheem Sterling’s man of the match performance. Lallana was happy with his performance, as his cross was headed home by Daniel Sturridge:
“It was nice to get a chance to impress the boss and, more importantly, to get the win after two defeats [against Chile and Germany last November]. I gave it my best and that’s all I can do. It’s not for me to judge how well I played. I will go back to my club and keep performing well and working hard and hopefully I will be involved in the squad at the end of the season.”
Hodgson spoke about his England’s full back scenario as Ashley Cole and Luke Shaw both impressed the boss:
“They were both very good. Ashley got forward and his defending was good, and Luke carried on in the same way. It’s a tougher decision now, yes, but there are a lot of matches still to be played.
“I’ll see a lot of Luke Shaw, Leighton Baines and hopefully Ashley Cole in the coming months. I wasn’t surprised with Ashley. I’m a great admirer of him. To play 107 times for England and be the best in the world for so long demands respect. I’ve watched him in training and he’s been unbelievably good, and very fit‚ right at the top of the running statistics , so there’s no question about his fitness. But he’s a specialist player. You don’t normally play two left-backs in the team and at the moment his manager at club level prefers someone else.”
Denmark coack Morten Olsen hailed England’s youthful performance on the field, but clearly taunted the England manager- for the World Cup where everyone expects England to return home soon- when he said:
“Good luck in the World Cup – you will need it.”
Hodgson cleverly responded by saying:
“I don’t care about that. Every team will need good luck. We didn’t need it tonight, that’s for sure.”
Highlights of the Match:
Top Image Courtesy: focuscalcio.it