LONDON - England manager Roy Hodgson praised Daniel Sturridge for the striker's sensational goal that set England on their way to a comfortable 3-0 win over Peru in a World Cup warm-up on Friday.
On a night when England said adieus to an optimistic Wembley crowd, Hodgson's men, operating a 4-2-3-1 formation, looked rusty in the opening period until Sturridge blew away some of the cobwebs with a superb left-footed strike on 32 minutes. Everton left back Leighton Baines set up defenders Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka to score from two devilish second half corners as England eased to victory against a Peru side that failed to qualify for the tournament in Brazil.
"It didn't look like it was going to be that comfortable in the first half when they got men behind the ball and defended well," Hodgson told reporters. "But as soon as Daniel came up with that fantastic goal I don't think the game was in great doubt. It was really good tonight that Daniel could score that goal and this one was particularly important because it unlocked the game."
Despite relying on two set pieces to down sorry-looking Peru, Hodgson said he was happy with his striking options and is yet to decide on the team that will face the Italy in England's Group D opener in Manaus on June 14. "I've said all along I think I've got a good squad of players here," said the former Liverpool manager, whose sides also meet Uruguay and Costa Rica in the group stage.
"I think there are many talented players, many exciting players. I am very satisfied with the options I've got in my strike force. I have got two weeks of training now to decide the line up for the team that will play Italy." Hodgson, who will confirm his final 23-man squad on Monday before England travel to Miami to play friendlies against fellow World Cup qualifiers Ecuador and Honduras, believes Peru provided the perfect warm-up for what is to come in Brazil.
"Peru gave me exactly the type of test I wanted tonight," he said. "If we do well in Brazil then many games will be of this nature because teams, not just from South America, are getting men behind the ball and make it hard for you to find a clear way through. If you are not careful they will hit you on the counter-attack and abuse the fact that you are taking the initiative in the game."