Rooney breaks record as England beats Switzerland
ABS-CBN Sports on Sep 09, 2015 10:53 AM
Englandís Wayne Rooney, centre, celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the Euro 2016 Group E qualifying soccer match between England and Switzerland at Wembley stadium in London, England, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015 . Rooney scored his 50th international goal to top England's all time goal scorers at this level. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
MATTIAS KAREN, AP Sports Writer
LONDON (AP) — Wayne Rooney broke England's scoring record as the hosts maintained their perfect record in European Championship qualifying with a 2-0 win over Switzerland on Tuesday that secured top spot in Group E.
Rooney slammed in a penalty in the 84th minute for his 50th international goal, eclipsing Bobby Charlton's 45-year-old England record.
England had already qualified for next year's tournament in France and lacked intensity for most of the game. But substitute Harry Kane opened the scoring in the 67th minute after a cross from Luke Shaw and Raheem Sterling was then tripped in the area to set up the spot kick for Rooney.
"To be the country's all-time leading goalscorer before the age of 30 is not something I could ever have dreamed of," the 29-year-old Rooney said. "I was a bit emotional out there and it's something to be extremely proud of. I'm happy it's done and hopefully I can kick on from here and concentrate on the team and our success in the future."
Switzerland stayed second in the group with Slovenia climbing to third by beating Estonia 1-0. Lithuania needed an injury-time winner to beat San Marino 2-1 in a game both teams finished with 10 men.
Switzerland could have qualified with a win if Slovenia-Estonia had been a draw, but all three teams remain in the hunt for the second automatic qualifying spot. Switzerland has 15 points with Slovenia on 12 and Estonia on 10 with two rounds of games remaining. The third-place team enters a playoff.
With England having secured a berth in France with a 6-0 win at San Marino on Saturday, the focus at Wembley was mainly on Rooney's quest to break Charlton's record. England struggled to create chances, though, and the Manchester United striker sidefooted a shot wide in the 17th minute and then headed straight at goalkeeper Yann Sommer in the 51st.
Switzerland mainly focused on counterattacks, but Xherdan Shaqiri and Josip Drmic were both off target with the team's best chances in the first half.
Instead it was Kane who finished off a well-worked move after Rooney fed the ball to Shaw running down the left flank. Kane met the defender's low cross with a low left-footed shot inside the near post.
When Sterling was brought down in the area, shouts of "Rooney" went up around Wembley as soon as referee Gianluca Rocchi pointed to the spot. And the England captain made no mistake, hitting an unstoppable shot that Sommer got a hand to but couldn't keep out.
"I knew myself it was a big moment for me and I just picked my corner and put my boot through it to get as much power as possible and make it hard for the keeper," Rooney said. "He got a touch, but thankfully it had too much power."
Charlton, who also played for United, scored his 49 goals for England in 106 games. Rooney needed 107 matches to get to 50.
"I obviously cannot deny that I am disappointed that I now don't hold this record," Charlton said in a statement. "However, I am absolutely delighted that it is Wayne, as captain of my beloved club and country, who now holds this record."
In Slovenia, Robert Beric boosted the hosts' hopes of reaching the Euro 2016 by scoring the winner in the 63rd minute.
San Marino nearly earned its second point of the campaign but Lukas Spalvis scored an injury-time winner for Lithuania. Matteo Vitaioli had equalized for San Marino in the 55th after Fiodor Cernych put the hosts ahead in the seventh. It was San Marino's first goal in a competitive away game since April 2001, a run of 34 matches.