Rooney breaks record as England do Euro 2016 double over Swiss
Wayne Rooney surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton’s record as record England scorer, converting a penalty against Switzerland to ensure the Three Lions grabbed an eighth win of Euro 2016 qualifying that confirmed they will finish top of their group.
Harry Kane came off the bench to break the deadlock with a quarter of the game to go before Raheem Sterling was fouled in the box, gifting Rooney the chance to grab a 50th international goal from the spot.
Roy Hodgson made four changes despite hitting San Marino for six last time out, with first-choice centre back pairing Gary Cahill and Chris Smalling returning, alongside Sterling and Fabian Delph. The latter’s recall last mere moments, however, as he hobbled off early on with a hamstring problem with Ross Barkley replacing him.
Switzerland frustrated their hosts for long periods in the first half, with Leicester City midfielder and skipper Gokhan Inler restored to their starting XI alongside attacking duo Valentin Stocker and Josip Drmic, who were scorers in the 3-2 comeback win over Slovenia last time out.
Rooney slipped in James Milner on 20 minutes, but he shot straight at Yann Sommer. First-half chances were at a premium, though Joe Hart down the other end spread himself well to deny Xherdan Shaqiri.
A close contest opened up more after the break, with Barkley’s strike headed behind by Timm Klose. Sommer then did well hold two further Rooney efforts, while Hart to be on hand to keep out Granit Xhaka’s near-post attempt from an outswinging Ricardo Rodriguez corner.
Within 10 minutes of his introduction in place of a hot-and-cold Jonjo Shelvey, Kane swept home Luke Shaw’s deep and low left-wing centre to give England the lead and finish a lovely move.
Xhaka’s trip on Sterling inside the area seven minutes from time then allowed Rooney to make history with a powerful spot-kick that Sommer simply couldn’t keep out. This prompted emotional scenes from the England skipper, who a dozen years earlier was a teenage sensation full of potential to smash records which has now fulfilled.
Hodgson now has complete freedom to experiment in the two remaining matches against Estonia and Lithuania, while sterner tests await his Three Lions in November in the form of prestige friendlies with Spain and Euro 2016 hosts France.