England manager Roy Hodgson was bullish in praise of his players after they completed their Euro 2016 preparations with a 1-0 win over Portugal.
The hosts played against 10 men for 55 minutes at Wembley after Bruno Alves saw red for a horror challenge on Harry Kane but had to wait until the 86th minute for a breakthrough – Chris Smalling heading his maiden international goal from Raheem Sterling’s left-wing cross.
Kane lined up alongside Jamie Vardy and captain Wayne Rooney in a new-look England attack and the previously untried front three were largely ineffective, with Kane and Vardy often marooned on the flanks.
But Hodgson was keen to focus on the positives of three friendly wins from three on the road to France, with victory against Fernando Santos’ side coming after 2-1 triumphs over Turkey and Australia.
“I’m not prepared to accept that we didn’t play well,” he told ITV. “In the second half I thought we played some very good football, especially in the last 30 minutes when we made some changes and brought some fresh legs on.
“We were good, our composure throughout the game was good.
“As a preparation game it would have been better to play against 11.
“It would have been better to play against 11. I’m really pleased with the three wins in these preparation games against good opponents.
“I’m pleased that today we kept a clean sheet and we never really looked like conceding a goal.”
Asked whether he felt Rooney, Vardy and Kane combined effectively, Hodgson replied: “I’m not prepared to add my voice to the debate, I’m not prepared to say this is better or that is better.
“We need both systems, we need all of our players playing well. In every game, some people have a really good night and some people have a less good night.
“I’m not prepared to stand here on national television and start criticising some players while praising others.
“If I start being dissatisfied with three wins in a row against Turkey, Australia and Portugal then I’m going to be a very hard coach to please.”
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