Rooney back on the goal trail as England sink Estonia
Wayne Rooney scored his first goal in a competitive international in over three years as England warmed up for their crunch Euro 2008 qualifier in Russia by beating Estonia 3-0 at Wembley.sports Updated: Oct 14, 2007 19:39 IST
Wayne Rooney scored his first goal in a competitive international in over three years as England warmed up for their crunch Euro 2008 qualifier in Russia by beating Estonia 3-0 at Wembley.
It was Steve McClaren squad's fifth successive 3-0 win in group E but that run will count for little if they are defeated by Russia in Moscow on Wednesday.
This contest was over by half-time, an early strike by Shaun Wright-Phillips being followed by Rooney's 13th goal for his country -- his first outside of friendlies since Euro 2004 -- and an own goal by Estonia's holding midfielder Taavi Rahn.
McClaren had resolved his major selection dilemma by opting to leave Frank Lampard on the bench in order to continue with the midfield quartet that had performed so effectively in last month's wins over Israel and Russia.
That decision was vindicated by a man-of-the-match display by Gareth Barry in the holding role, although the limitations of Estonia ensured this was a far from exacting test of the Aston Villa captain's credentials.
Barry was involved in the build-up to England's first goal, although the 11th-minute opener was primarily the product of the increasingly productive understanding between Wright-Phillips and Micah Richards, who collected a lay-off from the Chelsea winger and then played a deft little ball into the box through the inside right channel.
Centreback Dmitri Kruglov and Rahn both reacted sluggishly to the danger and Wright-Phillips was able to squeeze between them before unleashing a low shot from the corner of the six-yard box that made its way through the legs of both Rahn and Mart Poom.
That set the tone for what was to be an unhappy afternoon for Poom. The Watford goalkeeper was relieved to see Rooney's attempted chip shave the top of the bar as he back-pedalled but he could not be faulted as cruel deflections helped England kill off the contest with two goals in as many minutes.
First Joe Cole's cross was allowed to trundle across the Estonian penalty area to an unmarked Rooney, whose left-foot shot on the turn found the bottom corner via the boot of Raio Piiroja.
The nature of the goal will have been a source of added satisfaction for Rooney, who minutes earlier had been floored by a crude challenge from the towering defender.
Poom was equally powerless two minutes later when Rahn, attempting to intercept Ashley Cole's cross from a deep position on the left, managed to send an unstoppable header into the net via the inside of Poom's right-hand post.
England's comfortable advantage enabled McClaren to rest Rio Ferdinand for the second half and hand Joleon Lescott his first cap.
The Everton's defender did not have the happiest of introductions to the international stage. Barely two minutes after running on to the Wembley turf he misjudged a ball into the box and forced Ashley Cole into a goal-saving challenge on Kaimar Saag that resulted in the Chelsea defender limping out of the match.
As his thoughts turned towards Wednesday night's assignment in Moscow, McClaren will have been equally concerned by the sight of Paul Robinson fumbling a Ragnar Klavan shot from distance that represented the Estonians first strike on goal to give the goalkeeper any cause for concern.
The Tottenham goalkeeper did better just after the hour mark, positioning himself impeccably to keep out Joel Lindpere's fiercely struck drive from just outside the area.
Lampard, who had looked a decidedly disgruntled figure on the bench, was finally put of his misery with 20 minutes left and introduced instead of Michael Owen, whose subdued form will have have given England's coach something else to fret about ahead of the Russia match.
Three times the Newcastle found himself in one-on-ones with Poom and on each occasion he failed to find the net, although offside flags allowed him to shrug off the uncharacteristic lapses in his finishing.
First Published: Oct 14, 2007 19:33 IST