Wayne Rooney blasted home from the penalty spot to become England’s all-time record goalscorer, netting number 50 to secure his country a 2-0 win over Switzerland at Wembley. Three days after equaling the mark of Bobby Charlton against San Marino, Rooney was again unfailing from 12 yards to put his name in the record books in his 107th appearance.
With England having already secured their place at Euro 2016 following their 6-0 win over San Marino, their forward’s attempts to set a new benchmark was the focus of the Wembley crowd. But there will also be delight from Roy Hodgson that his side remained on course to become just the sixth side in history to record a 100 percent record in European Championship qualifying.
Still, they found things tough going against a Switzerland side that reached the Round of 16 at last year’s World Cup and came from two goals down with 10 minutes remaining to beat Slovenia last time out. Indeed, Switzerland had won five qualifiers on the bounce since suffering defeat in their first two, including to England in Basel.
As on that occasion, it was two second-half goals that did the damage for England. It took until substitute Harry Kane scored midway through the second half for the hosts to get the breakthrough. And, after Raheem Sterling went down rather theatrically in the box, Rooney put the seal on the win with six minutes remaining.
England now just have a home match with Estonia and a trip to Lithuania to navigate in order to remain perfect in qualifying. Switzerland, meanwhile, still need four points from remaining games at home to San Marino and away to Estonia to be certain of holding off Slovenia for the final automatic berth in France from Group E.
Switzerland could have been behind early at Wembley, with Vladimir Petkovic’s side exposed on the break on multiple occasions in the first 20 minutes. England began with four changes to the team that beat San Marino, although one of those brought in, Fabian Delph, was forced off with a hamstring problem in just the first minute. Yet England began at a threateningly quick tempo. Rooney rolled a shot wide of the post after being played through by Milner, before the forward repaid the favor only for Milner to shoot too close to Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer.
Gradually Switzerland began to settle and stifle an England midfield that struggled to make an impact. And the visitors had opportunities to go in front before the break. New Stoke City signing Xherdan Shaqiri produced a poor first touch when a better one would have seen him have a clean strike at Joe Hart’s goal. And soon after Shaqiri’s fine run and pass failed could only be followed up by a wayward finish from Josip Drmic.
It was a similar pattern early in the second half, and Switzerland were comfortable before Hodgson brought on Kane and switched to a 4-2-3-1. Only 10 minutes after coming on, the Tottenham forward made it three goals in just four internationals, as he clinically met a Luke Shaw cross with a low left-footed strike inside the near post.
Switzerland continued to cause concern for England, but ultimately it was the finishing of both sides that proved the difference. And a kind decision from the referee in pointing to the spot after Sterling crashed to the ground over the outstretched leg of Granit Xhaka made sure of the result. Rooney found the top corner of the net to ensure that no matter how his career is evaluated, he will always be the first in his country’s history to make it to goal number 50.