England 3 Peru 0 match report: Daniel Sturridge goal was one moment of great quality from an England player all night
There was a delegation in the smart blazers of the Federazione Italiana Giucco Calcio at Wembley tonight, the Italian football association had come to see what Roy Hodgson has in store for their boys in Manaus on 14 June. If they reported back to Cesare Prandelli confused at the precise answer to that question, they were not alone.
Peru are an average to poor side and eventually Hodgson’s players ground them down, with the assistance of a naivety at defending corners from the visitors that gave up two goals in the second half. The first goal was a beauty, lashed in by Daniel Sturridge after the half hour and the one true moment of great quality from an England player all night. They will need a lot more of those moments if they are to make an impression in Brazil over the next six weeks.
In defence of England, this was a Peru team that came with a mind-set to sit deep and nullify the pace that Hodgson’s side undoubtedly have, although there were some decent players among the opposition. What England failed to do in the first half was stretch and outplay Peru to the extent that their opponent’s defensive shape broke down. But that is nothing new. England have been failing to do that against defensive sides at Wembley for years.
By the time Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka had scored goals from corners poorly defended by Peru after the hour, the game was over and Hodgson completed the transformation of his team on the pitch to a younger version. John Stones was given his debut, and the likes of Jack Wilshere, Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley were all thrown on too. As Peru at last tired, the spaces opened and England looked more adventurous.
The old ponderousness of England when faced with a reticent defensive opponent will always be a problem. The fact that the crowd were distracted by the trajectory of paper darts made from the cardboard pre-match mosaic panels told you as much as you needed to know about the entertainment levels at times, but then this was a solid start. And solid will be enough for Hodgson.
It needed a goal from nothing because England were struggling to create anything of note against the five-man defence, four-man midfield of Peru. Nothing was exactly what they had with 32 minutes played when Sturridge collected a throw-in from Glen Johnson on the right, slipped past one half-hearted tackled, then another, and unleashed a left foot shot across the Peru goalkeeper Raul Fernandez and into the far corner.
It was a beautiful hit, typical of an ambitious striker who was well aware that he might not get another decent sight of goal. Both feet were off the ground when he made contact which gave it the necessary dip to get over the goalkeeper and in. At last, England had put some space between them and the team ranked joint 42rd in the world by Fifa.
The problem with inviting Peru to Wembley for the first time in their history was that they were unwilling to do anything more than sit behind the ball and invite England to pick their way through. Not what Hodgson will have hoped for, with a team that had enough pace in it to thrive on the counter-attack but that is what happens when you are stuck for an opponent.
Peru are the rehearsal for Uruguay, England’s second game in Brazil and one which is likely to pose them a few more problems than they were given tonight. Chile in November were just too damn good. Peru, on the other hand, were just too damn keen to park the bus. They caused the occasional problem, like when Rinaldo Cruzado came down hard on Steven Gerrard’s left ankle in the 26th minute, a moment that had Wembley cringing.
Gerrard survived intact, and he later went into the book with Cruzado, the England captain a frustrated figure in the centre of midfield before his team’s first goal, as he tried to orchestrate the play. It took 27 minutes before he struck one of those long, over-ambitious quarterback passes far out to the right to Johnson and the ball bounced out of touch. That kind of moment is usually the indicator that things are not quite working out as planned.
Both the wide players, Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana struggled to get into the game. There was one good run from the latter on 19 minutes which took him into the Peru box and, upon being tackled by Cruzado, presented a chance to Sturridge who drew it wide. Welbeck contributed even less in the first half. Wayne Rooney, playing his first game since 26 April, was not facing the Peru goal enough to cause much damage, obliged, as he was, to come short all the time.
Sturridge’s goal settled England although and it did draw out Peru a little. In fact, the visitors had their best chance to score when Luis Ramires broke down the left and Joe Hart did well to get a leg in front of the ball. The Montpellier striker Jean Deza had looked good for Peru.
Deza came off with 25 minutes left but he had already played his way onto the scouting lists of those mid to low ranking Premier League clubs with money to spend and a shortage of options. There was an argument for saying that he was the most impressive striker on show, with a readiness to hit a shot when nothing else was on.
He had Hart checking his angles on 54 minutes with a strike that just cleared the England goalkeeper’s crossbar and was hit from halfway inside the half. A better chance came just after the hour when Johnson was caught out badly by Andre Carrillo who took the ball from the England right-back and ran at goal. He played in Deza whose shot was only blocked by Jagielka’s astute covering tackle round the back.
Three minutes later, Cahill scored the second for England, the first of two minor catastrophes from corners for the Peru team. On this occasion they allowed the Chelsea centre-half to get his head to Leighton Baines’ corner and direct it firmly past Hernandez in the goal. Five minutes later the Peru goalkeeper dropped Lallana’s corner and Jagielka poked in his first international goal to general amusement.
By then Raheem Sterling had come on for Rooney, occupying the same position just behind the main striker. He has the knack of drawing defenders into making bad decisions and Peru found him difficult to cope with from the start. How much we see in Brazil of the configuration of youngsters who ended this game will probably have much to do with the success of Hodgson’s Plan A come next month.
England 3 (Sturridge 32, Cahill 65, Jagielka 70) Peru 0
England (4-2-3-1): Hart; Johnson, Cahill, Jagielka, Baines; Gerrard, Henderson; Welbeck, Rooney, Lallana; Sturridge.
Subs: Wilshere/Gerrard 64, Sterling/Rooney 66, Smalling/Jagielka 73, Milner/Lallana 73, Stones/Baines 75, Barkley/Sturridge 82
Peru (5-4-1): Fernandez; Advincula, Callens, Ramos, Rodriguez, Yotun; Deza, Ballon, Cruzado, Carrillo; Ramirez
Subs: Hurtado/Ramirez 59, Ruidaz/Deza 66 Riojas/Ramos 68, Velarde/Advincula 78, Flores/Carrillo 86
Booked: England Gerrard Peru Cruzado
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