England will head off to the World Cup in style after goals from Daniel Sturridge, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka earned a 3-0 win over Peru at Wembley.
Sturridge opened the scoring in the first half, before defensive duo Cahill and Jagielka sealed an impressive victory over their South America guests.
England’s players had been together for the best part of ten days prior to the game as Roy Hodgson begun work on his World Cup plan. And they were finally able to put some of it into practice with their first run-out as a team for nearly three months.
A crowd of over 83,000 turned out to send Hodgson’s men on their way to the World Cup as the Three Lions sported their new kit for the first time to entertain Peru, also first-timers to Wembley.
Hodgson handed starts to four Liverpool players, with Jordan Henderson lining up alongside skipper Steven Gerrard in midfield and Daniel Sturridge up front. He was supported by the trio of Daniel Welbeck, Adam Lallana and Wayne Rooney. The back five was no real surprise, with Joe Hart being protected by Leighton Baines, Glen Johnson, Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill.
Though an attacking team was employed, they were initially going to find a well-organised Peru side a tough nut to crack. Pablo Bengoechea, the new man at the visitor’s helm, opted for a 3-4-3 formation, which swiftly transformed to a 5-4-1 when they lost possession.
It made for a tough opening for England, who had much of the ball but were continually thwarted by a solid block of red.
And the first real chance came at the other end. Despite not wanting to commit too many men forward, even for a free-kick in England territory, Jean Deza mustered a shot with 18 minutes gone. Bursting through the middle, the Montpellier forward unleashed a powerful drive which deflected off Jagielka and forced Hart to back-peddle and palm away.
It briefly opened the game up and almost instantly England responded when Lallana worked his way into the box. The Southampton man hit the deck under a hefty challenge, but the ball broke kindly for Sturridge who shot first time across the goal, narrowly going wide.
England hearts were in their mouth shortly after, though, when Rinaldo Cruzado slid in late on birthday boy Gerrard, clattering into the Liverpool man awkwardly. But he brushed himself off and got on with it.
It was then time for Sturridge to do what he’s done so often for his club this season – not to mention the last England game against the Denmark. Cutting in from the right, he took the ball on to his trusty left, and with a wave of the magic wand bent a beautiful shot beyond the dive of Raul Fernandez and into the top corner.
England looked to be carrying their lead into the half-time interval, until Luis Ramirez was released into space behind the home rear-guard. With just Hart to beat he looked for the near post, but the Manchester City stopper did well to save with his feet.
Peru came out in the second half keen to get back on terms, and the ambitious Deza tried another long-ranger to try and outwit Hart. His 35-yard attempt dropped onto the roof of the net. The same man almost capitalised on a loose touch from Johnson, but Cahill was back quickly to cover.
Cahill’s hard work was rewarded, though, in the 65th minute when he went up for a corner. Baines’s delivery from the left was pin-point and the Chelsea defender diverted into the net.
It wasn’t long before his defensive partner Jagielka had made it three in similar fashion. This time the cross was from the opposite, Peru keeper Fernandez came to claim ten yards out, but clattered into defender Alexander Callens, spilling the ball invitingly for Jagielka.
His job was routine, tucking home into an almost unguarded net to put a shine on the score line.
There was even time for John Stones to earn his debut with 15 minutes to go. The World Cup standby player coming on in place of Everton team-mate Leighton Baines. He slotted into right back as Johnson moved across to the other side.
There was also time for two other replacements, Ross Barkley and Raheem Sterling to link up on the edge of the box after Welbeck has won back possession. Barkley played Sterling into the area, but his shot was always heading off target.
Nonetheless, Hodgson will be happy with his team’s work and they head to Miami on Sunday full of confidence where they’ll play twice before the main event in Brazil in a fortnight.
England (4-2-3-1): 1 Joe Hart; 2 Glen Johnson, 3 Leighton Baines, 5 Gary Cahill, 6 Phil Jagielka; 4 Steven Gerrard (c), 14 Jordan Henderson; 10 Wayne Rooney, 11 Daniel Welbeck, 20 Adam Lallana; 9 Daniel Sturridge
Substitutes: 7 Jack Wilshere on for 4 Steven Gerrard, 65; 19 Raheem Sterling on for 10 Wayne Rooney, 66; 12 Chris Smalling on for 6 Phil Jagielka, 73; 17 James Milner on for 20 Adam Lallana, 73; 24 John Stones on for 3 Leighton Baines, 75; 21 Ross Barkley on for 9 Daniel Sturridge, 81;
Subs not used: 8 Frank Lampard, 13 Ben Foster, 18 Rickie Lambert, 22 Fraser Forster, 25 Jon Flanagan
Manager Roy Hodgson
Bookings Steven Gerrard, 30
Peru (3-4-3): 1 Raul Fernandez, 2 Alberto Rodriguez (c), 15 Christian Ramos, 4 Alexander Callens; 8 Rinaldo Cruzado, 17 Luis Advincula, 23 Josepmir Ballon, 19 Yoshimar Yotun; 18 Andre Carrillo, 20 Luis Ramirez, 22 Jean Deza
Substitutes: 7 Paola Hurtado on for 20 Luis Ramirez, 60; 9 Raul Ruidiaz on for 22 Jean Deza, 66; 25 Hansell Riojas on for 15 Christian Ramos, 68; 13 Mario Velarde on for 17 Luis Advincula, 78; 24 Edison Flores on for 18 Andre Carrillo, 87
Subs not used: 5 Gianmarco Gambetta, 12 George Forsyth, 16 Miguel Angel Saavedra, 21 Pedro Gallese
Manager Pablo Bengoechea