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Rooney strike sees off Slovenia

FPJ Bureau | Updated on: Saturday, June 01, 2019, 01:02 AM IST

England's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Slovenia and England at the Stadium Stozice in Ljubljana, on June 14, 2015.
AFP PHOTO / Jure Makovec |
England's Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring a goal during the Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Slovenia and England at the Stadium Stozice in Ljubljana, on June 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Jure Makovec |
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Striker inches closer to equalling England’s all-time scoring record

Ljubljana (Slovenia) : England striker Wayne Rooney moved within one goal of equalling their all-time scoring record when his late strike secured a 3-2 win in Slovenia and kept up the Group E leaders’ 100 percent record in Euro 2016 qualifying.

England midfielder Jack Wilshere earlier twice smashed the ball into the top corner from outside the area as the visitors moved within touching distance of the finals in France on 18 points from six games, nine above second-placed Slovenia.

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Milivoje Novakovic had coolly given the hosts a 37th-minute lead after a series of England errors and Nejc Pecnik made it 2-2 late on before a defensive howler set up Rooney for his 48th England goal, one behind record goalscorer Bobby Charlton.

“It’s great to score the winner, but it was a great team performance,” Rooney told ITV. “We came out on the front foot for the second half and Jack Wilshere scored two great goals.”

Rooney’s strike gave England a sixth win in six Group E games, sending them provisionally nine points clear at the summit, as they finished a season unbeaten for the first time in 24 years.

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Hodgson made three changes to the team that had started in Dublin, with Kieran Gibbs, Fabian Delph and Andros Townsend coming in, but it was a player whose place was thought to have been under threat, Raheem Sterling, who provided the hosts’ spark. Twice Rooney freed Sterling to run at goal in the early stages, but after side-footing his first attempt over the bar, he then cut inside and saw a low shot deflected behind.

Eight minutes before half-time a succession of mistakes allowed the home side to land a sucker-punch. Phil Jones’s loose throw-in gifted possession to Slovenia and when Josip Ilicic played the ball behind the England defence, Gary Cahill misjudged his attempt to play offside and Novakovic ran through to score his 30th international goal.

Hodgson made a change at half-time, sending on Adam Lallana for Jones and asking Jordan Henderson to fill in at right-back, and although it seemed a puzzling switch, his side drew level in the 57th minute.

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Sterling’s pacy pass into the box was neatly gathered by Lallana and while the former Southampton captain could not get a shot away, the loose ball was crashed into the net by Wilshere from just outside the box.—AFP

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Published on: Tuesday, June 16, 2015, 12:06 AM IST