Costa Rica 0 England 0: Three talking points as Liverpool star comes closest
Costa Rica 0 England 0: Three talking points as Roy Hodgson's side finish their World Cup campaign with a whimper
Wilshere sparkles in new-look England midfield
Omitted from the starting line-up for England’s Group D losses to Italy and Uruguay, Jack Wilshere had his first taste of World Cup action against group winners Costa Rica. The 22-year-old missed the end of Arsenal’s season due to a broken foot sustained on international duty in March. The Gunners midfielder dusted off the cobwebs and produced an encouraging performance. Wilshere played with freedom and played the type of passes that Premier League fans have seen him produce in an Arsenal shirt on a regular basis. The England man, who earned his 20th cap in the final Group D game, was helped by having willing runners around him like Ross Barkley and Adam Lallana. With Frank Lampard earning his final Three Lions cap and Steven Gerrard’s international future undecided, the trio look a genuine option going forward and Hodgson must resist temptation in Euro 2016 qualifying to call on some of the old guard.
Sturridge the future despite wayward display
Daniel Sturridge and Gary Cahill were the only survivors from the England side which lost 2-1 to Uruguay. The 24-year-old has firmly cemented his position as Hodgson’s first-choice centre-forward and the Liverpool man can lay claim to being his country’s best performer in Brazil. Sturridge is level with Wayne Rooney in terms of World Cup goals and should have netted his second in Belo Horizonte. After an early attempt which didn’t trouble Keylor Navas, Sturridge headed over from six-yards out. His ability to bring team-mates into the game is a vital commodity for a centre-forward and his pace means opposition centre-halves can’t afford to switch off. When Oscar Duarte and Giancarlo Gonzalez did at the start of the second half, Sturridge failed to punish the Costa Ricans as a rare poor touch allowed Navas to smother the danger. The former Chelsea man showcased his link-up play when his one-two with Wilshere dissected the Costa Rica defender – only the left-footed finish was lacking. If Sturridge can continue to develop under the careful guidance of Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool striker should be a regular fixture in the coming years.
As expected, Hodgson gave the likes of Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Lallana vital major tournament experience in this Group D dead rubber. The England manager has already received backing from the FA despite the Three Lions’s earliest-ever World Cup exit. While there are exciting young players who should have kicked on by the time England next play in a major tournament (Euro 2016, barring disaster), the question seems to be can Hodgson get the best out of them? For all the talk of the England manager embracing the Liverpool philosophy after picking five Reds players for the opener against Italy in Manaus, the Three Lions ultimately lacked the fluidity of Brendan Rodgers’s side. The introduction of Barkley, Lallana and Wilshere helped England play with more freedom and produce off-the-cuff football against Costa Rica, whilst Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have the X-Factor to worry even top opponents. Hodgson needs to ditch the conservative approach, though, and work on making the players feel comfortable in possession and with his formations over the next two years.