LONDON (AP) — Underwhelming up front and uneasy at the back — but England still signed off with a victory at Wembley Stadium before the World Cup.
Only one forward contributed a goal in the 3-0 victory over Peru on Friday, with Daniel Sturridge's deft strike in the first half breaking the dreary deadlock.
But coach Roy Hodgson was still encouraged that his players managed to successfully exploit Peru's inability to defend set pieces to extend their lead in the second half. From two corners in a five-minute span, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka both netted in England's first friendly since the 23-man World Cup squad was named.
"It didn't look as if it would be too comfortable in the first half, but as soon as Daniel scored that wonderful goal the game wasn't in doubt," Hodgson said. "To do it in front of 85,000 people was a great send-off, the atmosphere was a vote of confidence.
"When you play against teams with 10 men behind the ball you have to be patient but I had no doubt we would win."
England heads over the weekend to Miami to play friendlies against Ecuador and Honduras before flying onto Brazil. In the Florida sun, it will be Wayne Rooney in particular with a lot to prove after the striker failed to come close to scoring in north London.
"We think we know where he is, how his fitness is being maintained or progressing," Hodgson said. "His attitude and commitment are first-class, even in a game of this nature. He has two more weeks to keep that going."
Although England was in control in the first half, there were anxious moments due to sloppiness that provided openings for the ineffective Peruvians, who didn't qualify for Brazil. When Rooney conceded possession early on, Jean Deza was able to unleash a dipping shot that Joe Hart saved, one of several openings for the winger on his debut. And in the second half, defender Glen Johnson gave the ball away too easily inside his own half, allowing Andre Carrillo to break forward and release Deza to shoot.
Peru goalkeeper Raul Fernandez at first had little to do, with the hosts taking until the 19th minute to come close to finding the target, with Sturridge dragging a shot wide. The match was so dreary that England fans made paper airplanes out of the cardboard used for a pre-match mosaic.
But Sturridge produced a goal out of nowhere with England's meaningful effort in the 32nd. A throw-in from Glen Johnson reached his Liverpool teammate, who placed the ball high into the net beyond Fernandez. That aside, throughout the first half Fernandez didn't have a save to make, while Hart was called into action just before the break, coming off his line to deny Luis Ramirez with his left boot.
This wasn't the rousing send-off England fans had hoped for, with the creativity missing and anxious moments. But the pair of goals from defenders added gloss to the win. Cahill first met Jagielka's corner in the crowded penalty area, planting a header into the net in the 65th. Then Fernandez raced off the line to catch Leighton Baines' corner but dropped the ball, which fell onto Cahill's head and dropped for Jagielka to dispatch into the net.
The victory was secure, but it will be far tougher on June 14 for the World Cup opener against Italy.
"There wasn't the match sharpness as much as we would have liked," Sturridge said. "But it was great to be out there and we are happy with the result."
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris