Euro 2012 qual. - Rooney scores in England win

Tue, 07 Sep 21:41:00 2010

Wayne Rooney put his tabloid troubles to one side as he helped England to a 3-1 victory over Switzerland in their Euro 2012 qualifier in Basel.

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The Manchester United striker, still reeling from the weekend's revelations about his private life, opened the scoring after 10 minutes as he followed up his instrumental performance against Bulgaria with another decent shift for his country.

Adam Johnson doubled England's lead midway through the second half, soon after Stephan Lichtsteiner had been sent off, only for 18-year-old Xherdan Shaqiri to fire the Swiss back into the match soon afterwards with a stunning long-range effort.

Darren Bent then came off the bench to score his first international goal in the closing minutes to seal the result which puts England joint-top of Group G with Montenegro, their next opponents.

England manager Fabio Capello made just one change from the side that beat Bulgaria 4-0 at Wembley on Friday, bringing in Joleon Lescott to partner Phil Jagielka in the heart of the defence in place of the injured Michael Dawson, and the pair for the most part rekindled their erstwhile Everton partnership with assured performances.

The opener was Rooney's first international goal for a year, since he scored in the 5-1 win over Croatia last September, and he looks to have put his disappointing World Cup form firmly behind him.

Theo Walcott beat his man and found Glen Johnson storming down the right wing. The Liverpool right-back played in a low cross that Walcott and Jermain Defoe both missed but Rooney was on hand to tap in from close range for his 26th international goal.

The only down point of England's first-half came in the build-up to that goal, when Walcott injured his ankle. However, that worry was offset for Capello by another impressive performance from Adam Johnson, who replaced the Arsenal winger.

Johnson, one of six Manchester City players who ended the match on the field, was as much a part of England's best play as Rooney, and the pair both worked hard to set up chances for Defoe.

Several passes through and over the defence from Rooney just skidded away from Defoe on the rain-soaked turf before he saw a strike inside the box parried by Diego Benaglio, while Adam Johnson found the Spurs striker with a cross only for him to fire off target with the ball slightly behind him.

Johnson opened his England account on Friday, and he almost doubled his international tally when his strike from 25 yards flashed over the bar.

Switzerland had struggled to fashion any chances from their limited first-half possession, but David Degen had the home side's best chance when he volleyed wide at the far post from a 38th-minute corner.

England came out after the break in the same dominant fashion, and soon after the restart Rooney floated a ball out to the far post for Adam Johnson to send a well-struck volley wide of the near post.

Right-back Glen Johnson combined well with his namesake down the right, and forced a good near-post save from Benaglio as the hour-mark approached.

However, that heralded a nervous spell for England, as Joe Hart showed his first sign of international jitters with a string of uncertain clearances and catches in quick succession.

Switzerland, through captain and top scorer Alexander Frei, saw their chance to pile the pressure on a shaky England - but just as the momentum looked to be swinging their way it was halted by the sending off of Lichtsteiner.

The Swiss right-back, who had only been booked a few minutes before, made a rash sliding challenge on James Milner and got his marching orders from referee Nicola Rizzoli.

Soon afterwards Defoe was down on the turf clutching his ankle, but England played on and were rewarded with a goal. Rooney found Gerrard and the captain played a weighted ball into the path of Adam Johnson, who calmly took the ball round Benaglio and knocked it into the empty net.

If England thought they were home and dry in the Basel rain at that point then they were soon set straight when 18-year-old Shaqiri, on as a half-time substitute, was allowed to drift inside from the right and fire an unstoppable swerving effort past Hart.

Bent replaced Defoe following the Johnson goal, and Rooney was then taken off for Shaun Wright-Phillips with 10 minutes remaining. The two almost combined in the closing stages, only for Wright-Phillips to hesitate in squaring the ball to the unmarked Sunderland man and the eventual ball was blocked.

At that point it looked as though Bent was destined to remain goalless in seven appearances for his country, but with England's very next attack he finally got that monkey off his back when he fired Cole's through ball low inside the near post.

Despite fitness worries over Walcott and Defoe, and Milner's second booking in two matches ruling him out of the home clash against Montenegro next month, overall it was another positive night for England after a summer of frustration.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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