ENGLAND 1, NORWAY 0
Wayne Rooney was England’s match-winner on the night he captained his country for the first time.
The striker, also recently made skipper at Manchester United, marked the occasion with his 41st international goal.
And the second-half penalty was a timely lift before Monday’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Switzerland.
It was a far from vintage performance from England as they struggled to overcome their World Cup blues and record their first win in six games.
Not for the first time England toiled against Norway as they had won only one of their previous six games against the Scandinavian side.
This was another struggle, but England just about edged a game which will not linger long in the memory.
While Rooney was winning his 96th cap, at the opposite end of the spectrum Fabian Delph and Calum Chambers were handed their first senior appearances as England’s new-look team continues to evolve.
Rooney admitted it was an unimpressive win, but believes the young players will have benefited from the experience.
He said: “In the first half we moved the ball quite well. The second half we started really sloppy which was disappointing, but we got the win in the end.
“The young players in the team will learn, we’re still learning. It’s always nervy taking a penalty, but I’m confident from the spot and put my boot through it.
“Raheem Sterling is a threat, he gets at players. It doesn’t always come off but he’s an exciting player to watch. We all could have done better but it’s a night where it was important to win.”
Manager Roy Hodgson praised Rooney but added he believes he can play better.
He said: “It was a big night for Wayne and he had big responsibility, not least with the penalty when he had to step up to make sure victory was won.
“I am sure Wayne will tell you he can have a better game. You don’t always perform as you want to, but that does not make you a bad player if you don’t give the performance you hoped for.”
Rooney’s debut was set against a backdrop of England’s lowest attendance – 40,181 – since they returned to the new Wembley.
The top tier was almost completely closed and there was an eerie feel about the ground which was less than half its 90,000 capacity.
It was also the dawn of a new era with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard having retired from international football after the World Cup, the last survivors of the so-called golden generation.
Jack Wilshere was entrusted with Gerrard’s midfield role while John Stones started at right back and there was youth out wide as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling were the wingers in a 4-4-1-1 system.
Rooney certainly made his mark early on as a flaying elbow left Norway’s Havard Nordveit with a bloodied nose in the 11th minute and which could easily have resulted in a red card had it been spotted by Portuguese referee Jorge Sousa.
England ought to have made a breakthrough midway through the opening half when Sterling’s precision pass released Sturridge whose lob of keeper Orjan Haskjold Nyland from eight yards landed on the roof of the net.
They also had a shout for a penalty rejected after Wilshere went sprawling following a sliding chellenge by Nordtveit, but that was as good as it got for England during an opening period which still had the distinct feel of a World Cup hangover following their woeful showing in Brazil.
England’s night would become a whole lot worse but for a superb save from Joe Hart to keep out a header from Blackburn Rovers and former Manchester United striker Joshua King.
There was a second shout for a spot kick when Sturridge went down and replays suggested he was shoved off the ball by Nordtveit.
Norway failed to survive a third penalty appeal after Sterling was tripped by Omar Elabdellaoui with 23 minutes left and Rooney stepped forward to smash home the spot kick.
It was his last action of the match as he was one of three substitutions made immediately after the goal.
Danny Welbeck, one of the three replacements, would have doubled England’s advantage but for a fine save by Nyland as they finished the stronger side.