Captain Wayne Rooney admits England need to improve following a lacklustre 1-0 victory against 10-man Portugal at Wembley.
Chris Smalling sent England to Euro 2016 on the back of another win, but the late header could not mask an underwhelming display against Portugal.
The third and final preparation game was always likely to prove the toughest, but few expected a toothless and disjointed attack to be the main concern against the side eighth in the world.
England’s defence had been the overriding concern ahead of the Wembley encounter, but Roy Hodgson’s inability to effectively shoehorn the attacking triumvirate of Rooney, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy into the same line-up was main issue in the 1-0 win against the 10 men of Portugal.
Smalling’s late header was one of few moments for the sell-out Wembley crowd to shout about, with Vardy and Kane struggling to make an impact either side of Rooney as the Three Lions lacked attacking coherence and edge.“We won the game, but it was always difficult for us when Portugal went down to 10 men,” Rooney, who played alongside Kane and Vardy for the first time said.
“They made it difficult, but we kept going and we got the win so that was obviously important to us.
“We know in these games there have been a lot of changes.
“We haven’t been at our best, but we have won the three games which is important especially as a young team. We are winning games when we are not playing well. We have to improve and in tournament football you have to improve to win games.”
Bruno Alves was sent off in the first half for a dangerous challenge on Kane. And Rooney, who will lead England in France later this month, added: “We were the better team, even with 11 v 11, but we need to player better.
“We know that, but it is a good sign when you don’t play as well as you can do, but you win the game.”
All eyes were on the United captain, and the two top scorers in the Barclays Premier League Kane and Vardy.
But the trio flattered to deceive and Hodgson will be left with a headache over whether to unleash the trio in England’s opening match against Russia on June 12.
“We didn’t have many chances, none of us, so it is something the manager is working on and Portugal made it difficult,” Rooney added.
“It is a 23-man squad, not three players. It is about all of us, not three of us.”
Asked for his opinion on the experiment, Hodgson added: “It went like it went. I am not prepared to add my voice to the debate.
“I am not prepared to say this is better, or that is better. We need both systems. We need all of those players playing well. We need all of those players doing what they can do well.
“Of course in every game of football some people have a really good night, and some have a less good night, and I am not prepared to stand here on national television and criticise some players while praising others.”