10:42am Thursday 16th August 2012
JERMAIN DEFOE dedicated his England matchwinner to cousin Hannah, who died in a freak accident in St Lucia last month.
Defoe’s 80th-minute strike secured a 2-1 win over Italy in Berne as Roy Hodgson handed five players their debuts.
But what Defoe described as one of the best goals of his England career was tinged with sadness as it would have been Hannah Defoe’s 21st birthday yesterday.
‘‘That goal was for my cousin who died in St Lucia,’’ said Defoe. ‘‘It would have been her birthday today.’’ Hodgson’s side showed plenty of spirit to recover after Daniele de Rossi had put the Euro 2012 runners-up ahead.
Phil Jagielka equalised before the break and after substitute goalkeeper John Ruddy had made three excellent saves, Defoe belted home from 20 yards.
‘‘It was spectacular, a great way to win the game,’’ said Hodgson. ‘‘That is his forte, something he can do.
‘‘He does it regularly for Tottenham and it was nice to see him doing it for England.’’ Defoe now has 16 international goals and England have a new youngest goalkeeper after Jack Butland started.
It was Ruddy who did more to further his claims to be regarded as Joe Hart’s deputy.
And with Michael Carrick producing a quietly effective display on his return to the England fold, Gary Cahill producing a decent display in central defence and all those young players gaining valuable experience, the game proved to be a worthwhile exercise for Hodgson ahead of next month’s opening World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine.
‘‘I’m pleased,’’ he said.
‘‘It was the type of game I sort of expected; two teams with a lot of changes looking to make a big impression ahead of the qualification campaign.
‘‘I am happy with the way we responded to that challenge and the performance we gave.
‘‘It’s the qualifiers that really count, but it’s nice to know we have a deeper squad of players than that we took to the Euros.’’ With Gareth Barry and Scott Parker both sidelined through injury, Carrick has an important role to play.
And Hodgson declared himself satisfied with the Manchester United man’s performance alongside skipper Frank Lampard.
‘‘They were the outstanding players,’’ he said.
‘‘You don’t become a really good player overnight. You have to play an awful lot of football at the highest level.
‘‘They’ve done that internationally and for two very important club sides.
‘‘The quality of their play was very good and it was good for the youngsters to have those around them showing that composure on the ball.’’ Carrick’s ability to retain possession was something England so obviously lacked in Poland and Ukraine this summer.
‘‘In the Euros, especially towards the end and the second half against Italy where they dominated, we did have an excuse,’’ said Hodgson.
‘‘We were a bit tired at that time. It wasn’t a typical performance from an England team, and not the way we want to play.
‘‘This is the way we want to play.’’ Italy coach Cesare Prandelli also branded the contest a success, despite the result, highlighting the performance of striker Mattia Destro in particular as a reason for optimism.
‘‘We have seen some young players who can be the future of the national team,’’ said Prandelli.
‘‘Mattia Destro showed he can play in the national team now.’’
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