England striker says team should have done better than 1-0 win over 10-man Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal at Wembley in final warm-up game ahead of next week’s Euro 2016 tournament
London: England manager Roy Hodgson was forced to defend his tactics after his side narrowly edged 10-man Portugal 1-0 in their final warm-up game prior to Euro 2016.
Hodgson fielded forwards Wayne Rooney, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy from the start, but despite Portugal losing Bruno Alves to a first-half red card, it took an 86th-minute header from centre-back Chris Smalling for his side to prevail at a subdued Wembley on Thursday.
England’s Chris Smalling (left) heads to score during a friendly warm-up tie against Portugal at the Wembley Stadium in London on Thursday. Pic/AFP
While Rooney had been expected to support Kane and Vardy from a withdrawn role, he operated as a central striker, with the Leicester City forward and Tottenham Hotspur man in wider positions.
However, Hodgson said: “We played with split strikers. When you play with that system, you need your strikers to split. If you play with them going down the middle and Rooney in behind them, you’d never be able to defend the wide areas.
“There might have been moments when they were too wide, but basically speaking, that would have to be their job.”
Rooney sought to draw positives from the fact that despite playing poorly, England had found a way to emerge victorious, as in their previous warm-up games against Turkey and Australia.
“We won the game, but it was always difficult,” he told ITV. “They went to 10 men and that can happen in football. We were the better team. We need to play better, we know that. But it’s a good sign that we didn’t play well and won the game.
“The manager is working on the three up front. There are 23 men in the squad — it’s about all of us. We are ready. We haven’t been at our best, but we have won the three games.”
England will next take to the field on June 11 when they open their Euro campaign with a Group B fixture against Russia at Marseille’s Stade Velodrome.