Toothless England draw a blank

INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL: Venables' men take backward steps as Norway preserve their four-year unbeaten home run


reports from the Ullevaal stadium, Oslo

Norway 0 England 0

England did not lose last night, and they did not concede a goal. Given the defeats inflicted in their last two matches in Norway that is at least something for which they can be thankful. However, that is almost the sum total of positive things to be said about an eminently forgettable match against the spoilers of international football.

After the promise of the performance against Colombia last month this was a retrograde display by England against an outdated but still effective style. The only consolation was the absence of any crowd trouble, although that was probably because those watching were bored rigid by the soporific fare in front of them.

The most worrying aspect for the coach, Terry Venables, was England's lack of potency in front of goal. Although Nick Barmby played further forward, to make a two-pronged attack with Alan Shearer, England only managed two shots on goal. This was their fourth goalless draw in 12 matches under Venables. It was Shearer's ninth start without a goal. Les Ferdinand, in such rich form for Newcastle, did not even make the substitutes' bench.

One player who did was Steve Stone who became the 20th new cap under Venables when he came on for the last quarter. He gave England a width that neither Dennis Wise nor Steve McManaman had been able to provide. McManaman came inside early, having been starved of possession the wing, but he was still unable to get involved in the danger areas.

In the centre Robert Lee made few of the forward runs which are so much a feature of his play at Newcastle while Jamie Redknapp spent most of his time passing sideways as he looked in vain for movement in front of him. This was partly because there were few places for Shearer and Barmby to run into; England's measured build-up gave Norway plenty of time to pull players back. They fielded a 4-5-1 formation, with the emphasis on quick breaks, early crosses and set-pieces.

Such route-one football, while it fails them at the top level, has enabled Norway to build an undefeated home record of 19 matches over four years. Included in that run was the debacle of June 1993 when Graham Taylor's hapless England had meekly succumbed 2-0. Five of that Norwegian team survived but only two of the English one were present: Gary Pallister and Tony Adams. Another, Teddy Sheringham, was on the bench having been surprisingly preferred to his partner that afternoon, Ferdinand.

England started nervously when Adams miskicked and Stuart Pearce fouled within the first 14 seconds. Then David Seaman dropped a high cross from Lars Bohinen, under pressure from the giant Tore Flo. Seaman gathered the ball at the second attempt and quickly redeemed himself, making a fine save as Mini Jakobsen shot from 20 yards. Barmby did get to the byline after eight minutes but his cross just eluded Shearer and England did not threaten again in the first half-hour.

Eventually, 37 minutes into the half, Erik Thorstvedt was called upon to make a save. But, after Gary Neville had crossed from the right, Shearer's 20-yard volley was too weak to worry the Tottenham goalkeeper. Within a minute Jan Age Fjortoft's low cross brought a more demanding save from Seaman. Lee then forced Thorstvedt to sprawl across his box to save.

The second period began promisingly as Lee had to make a strong tackle to deny Bohinen in the six-yard box, then Seaman slipped but recovered as Oyvind Leonhardsen shot from 25 yards. Sterility, however, was soon restored.

Midway through the half England brought on Stone and Sheringham for Barmby and Wise. Stone made an immediate impact, stealing possession from Stale Solbakken as he broke into the area and shaped to shoot. England also created a chance, their best, after 75 minutes, but McManaman failed to control Neville's perceptive cross.

Although Seaman made another good save, from a Stig Inge Bjornebye free- kick, England finished the brighter. Stone's low cross caused rare confusion in the Norwegian area. However, he is likely to be the only person to remember this match with any affection.

ENGLAND (4-4-2): Seaman (Arsenal); G Neville (Manchester United), Pallister (Manchester United), Adams (Arsenal), Pearce (Nottingham Forest); Wise (Chelsea), Lee (Newcastle), Redknapp (Liverpool), McManaman (Liverpool); Barmby (Middlesbrough), Shearer (Blackburn). Substitutes: Stone (Nottingham Forest) for Wise, 67, Sheringham (Tottenham) for Barmby, 67.

NORWAY (4-5-1): Thorstvedt (Tottenham); Loken (Rosenborg Trondheim), R Johnsen (Besiktas), Berg (Blackburn), Bjornebye (Liverpool); T A Flo (Tromso), Bohinen (Blackburn), Rekdal (Lierse), Leonhardsen (Wimbledon); Jakobsen (Rosenborg Trondheim); Fjortoft (Middlesbrough). Substitutes: Solbakken (Lillestrom) for Leonhardsen, 62, Brattbakk (Rosenborg Trondheim) for Fjortoft, 79.

Referee: K-E Nilsson (Sweden).

European Championship and other reports, results, page 31

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot