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England

50-50 Challenge: Scotland vs. England

50-50 Challenge
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John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

England grades: Raheem Sterling dazzles but Wayne Rooney dismal

Aside from both being involved in England's only goal, Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling had very different evenings.

Just 40,181 showed up to watch, meaning that 50,000 took the entirely correct decision to do something less boring than attend Wembley. Roy Hodgson's dwindling popularity will have only done some good for those seeking cures for insomnia.

In the prelude to facing Switzerland in England's most difficult away fixture of Euro 2016 qualifying in Basel on Monday, there were very few indications of the brave new world that Hodgson has tried to peddle this week in preparation. Coach Gary Neville's pensive look said much. This was a performance to put Hodgson under serious pressure before the new campaign had even started.

Hodgson celebrated Wayne Rooney's winning penalty rather more than he might have done -- a moment of relief rather than vindication.

Player ratings: (0-10)

G Joe Hart (Manchester City), 6 -- By no means his busiest night in the England gloves, though there was a fumble of a Per Ciljan Skjlebred cross to bring back memories of the error that allowed Stoke's Mame Biriam Diouf to score at the weekend. The other side of half-time, he made a fine clawing save from Joshua King to show that he had not totally lost concentration. Did not look entirely safe.

D John Stones (Everton), 6 -- His future clearly lies in the centre of defence but shoehorned in on his first start for his country at full-back, his athleticism and comfort on the ball allowed him to involve himself in attack. Was worryingly beaten by Per Egil Flo at one point, but recovered his poise. He will be asked back.

D Leighton Baines (Everton), 6 -- For a player under pressure after a troubled time in Brazil, and with Everton suffering some severe defensive malfunctions, Norway were precisely the type of opponent who could help him play his way back into confidence. They allowed him to show off more of his attacking facets than test his defensive mettle, though the overlaps usually came to naught.

D Phil Jones (Manchester United), 6 -- Playing as part of a back four may have come as a relief for someone involved in Manchester United's three-at-the-back growing pains. Like partner Gary Cahill, he found King a handful, especially in the second half. Looks some way off being England's centre back of the future as was expected a couple of years ago.

Gary Cahill was nearly embarrassed by Joshua King on a couple of occasions.

D Gary Cahill (Chelsea), 5 -- Now his country's most senior central defender, he was disconcertingly rolled by King in the first half and let the same player escape for a decent chance from a corner at the beginning of the second period. King skipped round him once more too before Hart was able to smother his goalbound attempt. Central defence is not a strong area for England. A late injury saw his ankle placed in ice.

M Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), 5 -- Short of full pelt as he continues to recover from the injury that prevented him playing a part in Brazil. Made incursions infield, but did not look anywhere near the player he had threatened to be during England's warm-up games for the World Cup.

M Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), 6 --Looks here to stay in the England set-up, even if he is much more comfortable in a midfield three than duo. Signs of an understanding with Wilshere as both took turns to either bomb on or hold but both could have done with an extra pair of legs to aid them. Hodgson's persistence with 4-4-2 does little to help either.

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M Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), 6 -- Was clearly up for this one, as he seeks to prove he can replace the retired golden-watch generation of Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. A couple of runs, and some attempted through balls showed his desire. There is still a sense that he is playing himself into fitness. His short passing was often of a decent quality, though he has a long way to go to match the long-ball quality of those aforementioned predecessors.

M Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), 7 -- Started on the left, with licence to cut in. Every run conjured a frisson of excitement among the sparse crowd. It was clear that he and Sturridge, perhaps alone among England's team, have an understanding and came as little surprise that it was his burst that won England's penalty. A shift to 4-3-3 moved him central into the No. 10 role, from which he was far more effective than Rooney.

F Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), 4 -- Looked to be in his lacklustre Manchester United form when failing to seize on Sturridge's pass. This was not the captain's performance he was looking for in his first day in his new job. His touch was heavy and his long passing's quality did not match his ambition. Rooney is going through a serious slump, just as his club and country require him to inspire them. A penalty converted and celebrated with force could not hide a performance that was poor overall.

Daniel Sturridge was lively but couldn't find the net.

F Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), 6 -- Early on, was full of the zip he has shown so far this season at Liverpool. The buzziest of all England's forwards, he should have scored when lobbing over in the 25th minute. Lost his way a little as the match went on and is in need of finding his confidence in front of goal.

SUBS:

M Fabian Delph (Aston Villa), 6 -- Replaced Oxlade-Chamberlain (69) to make his England debut. Solid enough.

F Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), 7 -- New Gunner made an instant impact after replacing Rooney (70). His movement improved matters, and a fierce shot was well saved by Orjan Haskjold Nyland.

M James Milner (Manchester City), 6 -- Arrival for Wilshere (69) allowed England to play a 4-3-3, from which they looked far more dangerous in attack.

D Calum Chambers, (Arsenal), N/R -- Continued meteoric progress by making his international debut in replacing Stones for the concluding ten minutes.

D Phil Jagielka (Everton) N/R -- Late replacement for a possibly limping Cahill (84)

F Rickie Lambert (Liverpool) N/R --Late replacement for Sturridge (89)

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