Roy Hodgson's first game as England manager ended well and should at least encourage the sense that the team are not going into Euro 2012 in a complete state of disrepair. The preparations may have been chaotic, and Norway were certainly obliging opponents, but Hodgson's priority had been to create a side who would be difficult to break down and it should not be overlooked this was the first time their opponents had lost at home for two years.

After so little time together, that represents a satisfying evening's work for Hodgson even if there were pockets of the game when their carelessness with the ball would have been punished by a more accomplished side. The rough edges were probably inevitable when Hodgson has had so little time to work with his players but, at other times, England looked assured and in control, particularly in the first half after the goal from Ashley Young that soothed any first-game nerves and, ultimately, led to a first win over Norway since 1980.

The team are clearly still a work in progress, to use Hodgson's own's description, but in terms of defensive structure the best compliment that can probably be paid to the new manager is that nobody would ever have known they were a side cobbled together on the back of only three training sessions. Rob Green was troubled only sporadically on his first appearance since the World Cup and every member of a completely new-look defence played with distinction when Norway came forward looking for an equaliser in the last half an hour. If nothing else, it demonstrated Hodgson's work over the previous week on the team's structure and organisation. Now they just have to learn to take better care of the ball.

The disappointment came in the way the team did not build on their early superiority, when Young was an elusive opponent, driving down the channels, and his partnership with Andy Carroll left the clear impression that Hodgson has chosen the right combination as he tries to compensate for Wayne Rooney's suspension from the first two Euro 2012 matches.

Carroll certainly rose to the challenge of replacing Rooney, looking sharp and confident and generally continuing where he left off from Liverpool at the end of the season. The striker has endured some difficult times and occasionally there were reminders that he is still far from the finished product, such as the moment in the first half when his misplaced pass went straight out for a Norway throw-in. Ultimately, though, he can reflect on a productive performance. He was the stand-out player in the opening half, eager to impress and dovetailing neatly with his new striker partner.

Later, his aerial presence helped the team combat Norway's attacks to the extent that Hodgson abandoned his plans to bring on Jermain Defoe purely because Carroll was proving so useful defensively.

Beside him, Young was lively and elusive, always looking to get beyond the Norwegian defence. Young turned past Brede Hangeland for his goal as if he were going round a training-ground cone rather than one of the Premier League's better defenders. It was a confident side-footed finish beyond the goalkeeper, Rune Almenning Jarstein, and Hodgson was so encouraged he spoke afterwards of wanting the Manchester United player to become as important to the national team as Rooney.

The early goal had therapeutic effects and England were rarely threatened during the remainder of the first half. Norway have beaten France, Portugal and the Czech Republic here in the last two years but it was not until the second half that they began to play like the home side. Their manager, Egil Olsen, spoke of being surprised that his players had had so much of the ball and Theo Walcott, one of six England substitutes, suffered the ignominy of being nutmegged twice in quick succession by John Arne Riise.

All the same, there were only three occasions in the match when Green saved his team. Leighton Baines confirmed he is a capable deputy for Ashley Cole at left-back while Phil Jagielka, promoted from the standby list, put in an assured performance alongside Joleon Lescott and Phil Jones was generally assured at right-back. How strange it is that not one of these defenders may be involved when we get to the real business of the France game in Donetsk on 11 June.

It may even be that all four drop out for the final warm-up game against Belgium next Saturday, by which time Hodgson expects Glen Johnson to be fit and John Terry, Gary Cahill and Ashley Cole will have reported for duty.

The downside came in the form of the groin injury that is threatening Gareth Barry's participation in the tournament and meant Steven Gerrard's half-time replacement was forced off after 73 minutes. Gerrard's withdrawal was pre-planned and nothing to do with the lunging challenge that forced Norway's right-back, Tom Hogli, out of the game. However, Hodgson will know it was the kind of over-exuberance to which referees in Poland and Ukraine might take exception.

With so many substitutes, it was probably only to be expected that England would look slightly dishevelled in the second half.

Jones and Young were both withdrawn after complaining of tight hamstrings. As for Barry, Hodgson's expression afterwards was of a man who feared the worst. With England, there always seems to be a cloud attached to every silver lining.

NORWAY Jarstein; Hogli (Ruud 40), Demidov, Hangeland, Riise; Tettey (Jenssen 90); Elyounoussi, Henriksen (Berisha 84), Braaten (Huseklepp 74), Pedersen (Grindheim 62); Abdellaoue Subs not used Pettersen, Madsen.

ENGLAND Green; Jones (Kelly 88), Jagielka, Lescott, Baines; Milner, Parker (Walcott 56), Gerrard (Barry ht; Henderson 73), Downing (Johnson 85); Young (Oxlade-Chamberlain 72); Carroll Subs not used Hart, Defoe