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Roy Hodgson experienced his first Wembley victory as England overcame Belgium 1-0 in their final game before UEFA EURO 2012.
Nine days ahead of their Group D opener against France in Donetsk, Roy Hodgson named a strong lineup. Scott Parker returned to fortify England's injury-ravaged midfield, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added impetus to the attack on his first senior start. Another livewire, Danny Welbeck, proved the match-winner with a deft first-half finish.
Boasting composure beyond his years, Arsenal FC teenager Oxlade-Chamberlain almost made an immediate impact but skewed wide following James Milner's cutback. His exuberant aura came to the fore seven minutes later as well, following neat work from Welbeck, although his fierce strike lacked direction.
The values Hodgson is endeavouring to instil among his players were evident as the hosts maintained a staunch defensive shape. That threatened to be broken, however, when some probing passing resulted in an opening for Axel Witsel, but the midfielder blazed over from 25 metres.
Just as the carnival atmosphere inside Wembley threatened to diminish, England broke free from the shackles of paralysis and took the lead. Welbeck hectored and harried Belgium into submission and, after retrieving possession, latched on to Ashley Young's incisive pass, before delicately lifting the ball over Simon Mignolet.
The early stages of the second half bore a striking resemblance to the first as Belgium refused to abandon their patient approach and England remained resolute in defence. Eden Hazard forced Joe Hart into action with a curling effort, before Marouane Fellaini turned inside the area and sent a low shot straight at the goalkeeper.
Despite the introduction of Wayne Rooney, Belgium continued to press and were almost rewarded for their ambition when Guillaume Gillet ventured forward from his right-back position and struck a firm effort against a post. Jermain Defoe followed suit at the other end moments later, and England held out for a morale-boosting win.
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