Rooney scores in 100th game

2014-11-15 21:35
Wayne Rooney (AFP)

London - Wayne Rooney has marked his 100th cap with a valuable goal as England hit back to beat Slovenia 3-1 on Saturday and preserve their perfect start in Euro 2016 qualifying.

After a dire first half at a subdued Wembley Stadium, Slovenia took a surprise 57th-minute lead when England's Jordan Henderson headed the ball into his own net.

But Rooney equalised almost immediately, scoring his 44th international goal from the penalty spot to move level with third-place Jimmy Greaves in the all-time England scoring chart, before Danny Welbeck's brace secured victory.

"It was a good day in the end," said Rooney. "We had to show character and that will be good for us in the team. Since the World Cup, we haven't faced that (going behind)."

The win strengthened England's position atop Group E ahead of the resumption of qualifying matches in March and means that Roy Hodgson's side will travel to Glasgow for Tuesday's friendly against Scotland with their post-World Cup momentum intact.

"It was not going to be easy. They were disciplined and well organised," said Hodgson.

"When we went a goal down, it was very important to break back and in the end it turned out to be a very good victory."

Rooney was accompanied by his young sons Kai and Klay as he led the teams onto the pitch and he was then presented with a commemorative golden cap by England and Manchester United great Bobby Charlton.

Southampton's Nathaniel Clyne made his England debut at right-back and he helped create an early chance for Raheem Sterling with a burst down the flank, only for the teenager to drag wide.

England monopolised possession, but their lack of invention made for a torpid first half on a pitch that bore the scars from last weekend's NFL match between the Dallas Cowboys and the Jackonsville Jaguars.

Having won their previous two group games without conceding a goal, Slovenia were content to sit deep and counter-attack, but they almost went ahead when Milivoje Novakovic headed narrowly wide at a corner.

England forced Slovenia back at the start of the second half, Rooney heading wide and then teeing up Phil Jagielka to work Samir Handanovic with a header, but it was the visitors who made the breakthrough.

Andraz Kirm whipped a free-kick into the England box from wide on the left and Henderson rose higher than everyone at the near post, only to head the ball past Joe Hart for an own goal.

Slovenia were threatening to spoil Rooney's big day, but the 29-year-old elected to take matters into his own hands.

Visiting captain Bostjan Cesar was celebrating his own milestone -- a record-breaking 81st cap -- but barely a minute after Henderson's goal, he clipped Rooney's heels as the England captain surged into the box.

Rooney blasted the ensuing penalty inside Handanovic's right-hand post, equalling Greaves's tally of 44 England goals and closing to within five goals of Charlton's overall record of 49.

Gary Cahill then had to block from Kevin Kampl after Jagielka tied himself into a knot in a dangerous position, but in the 65th minute England completed the turnaround.

When Adam Lallana's deflected cross was blocked at the near post by Handanovic, the ball squirted up into the air and Welbeck threw himself in to send it trundling into the net.

Seven minutes later the Arsenal striker completed his brace, neatly exchanging passes with Sterling before steering the ball past Handanovic to score his fifth goal in four qualifying games.

"In the end we can be sorry, because we missed a nice opportunity," said Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec.

"England had some problems and we couldn't take this opportunity."

Read more on:    england  |  euro 2016  |  danny welbeck  |  wayne rooney  |  soccer

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