Rooney take plaudits on big night

Published: Saturday 15th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Roy Hodgson saluted Wayne Rooney after he marked his 100th appearance with a crucial penalty to help England record a 3-1 win over Slovenia.

Jordan Henderson looked set to inadvertently gatecrash Rooney’s special evening when he headed into his own goal in the second half.

But Rooney won and converted a penalty before Danny Welbeck added a brace to give England their fourth straight Euro 2016 qualifying win.

“It was a wonderful evening for him,” said the England manager of Rooney, who received a commemorative golden cap from Sir Bobby Charlton before kick-off.

“He’s very important to me and to English football. It was fitting tonight he was able to really get his reward on the night when it’s all about him. He picks up the cap, but also scores the important first goal and leads England to victory. We’re delighted for him.”

Less than two minutes after Slovenia took the lead, Rooney went down in the box after a tackle by Bostjan Cesar and the England captain converted from 12 yards.

“It was a fine piece of play by Jack Wilshere to set it up, but it was a very good run from him into the box and that put us right back in the game,” Hodgson said.

The goal means Rooney is now England’s joint-third highest goal scorer alongside Jimmy Greaves.

He is also now one of nine players to have represented the Three Lions 100 times.

Typically for Rooney, he was selfless after the match, instead choosing to praise the rest of his team-mates for the way they turned the game on its head after a terrible first half.

”It’s a great honour to represent England 100 times now and hopefully many more to come,” the England captain told ITV 1.

”We’ve got a good winning mentality. I think you’ve seen that once we went 1-0 down.

“We knew it was going to be tough night, even tougher after they scored but the character we’ve shown was great.

”That winning mentality is with us. We believe we’re going to win every game.”

Rooney was also full of praise for fellow striker Welbeck, who took his England tally to five goals in five games in clinical fashion.

Welbeck volleyed a rebound past Samir Handanovic before grabbing his second following a neat one-two with Raheem Sterling.

”He doesn’t have to prove (anything) to anyone,” said Rooney of his former Manchester United team-mate.

”He’s shown he’s a top forward and he’s getting better. The more games he plays he’s getting better.

”He’s scoring goals for England, for Arsenal and he deserves all the credit he gets because he’s a fantastic football player.”

Despite the hype and fanfare surrounding Rooney pre-match, the Manchester United forward could not inspire his team in the first half as the fans inside Wembley were subjected to possibly the worst 45 minutes of football seen at the home of football this year.

Not until Phil Jagielka’s 55th minute header did Handanovic have to make a save from an England player.

The state of the pitch did not help matters.

The central parts of the surface cut up significantly because of the damage caused by last week’s NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys.

But Hodgson was loathe to criticise his players, who travel to Scotland on Tuesday for what is sure to be a testing friendly at Celtic Park.

“I thought in the first half we dominated, but it was a little bit sterile at times because we weren’t getting the penetration we were looking for and we weren’t creating the clear-cut chances,” Hodgson said.

“But it would be very churlish to sit here after a 3-1 victory to start criticising the team because in the first half they didn’t reach the heights.”

Slovenia coach Srecko Katanec felt his men missed a great opportunity to record a historic first win over the English.

He said: “It was a nice chance because the England team does have some problems and we couldn’t be clinical.”

Published: Saturday 15th November 2014 by The News Editor

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