Wayne Rooney beat Sir Bobby Charlton’s record and became England’s greatest-ever goal-scorer with a fine penalty in the 2-0 win over Switzerland at Wembley.
Rooney had toiled throughout the Euro 2016 qualifier against the Swiss but eventually found the net from the penalty spot in the 84th minute after Raheem Sterling had been fouled in the box. The England skipper rifled a shot past Yann Sommer from 12 yards to break Charlton’s 45-year old record.
The match may have been a dead rubber and the goal may have come by the easiest means, but that should not detract from what is a truly remarkable achievement from Rooney.
There has been much debate in recent months about whether Rooney deserves to be classed as an England great. But he can now look at the history books and point out to the doubters that he stands above the likes of Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Sir Geoff Hurst and now Charlton in the goal charts.
For so long it looked as if Rooney’s big night was going to end up being an anti-climax. The Manchester United forward struggled to make an impact, and England looked to be heading for a bore draw.
But Harry Kane stepped off the bench to put England ahead and Rooney blasted home a historic second to give his side the win that maintains their 100 per cent qualifying record and seals their place at the top of Group E with two matches to go.
Rooney was accompanied on to the pitch for his big night by mascot Romeo Beckham. England could have done with a sprinkling of magic from the youngster’s dad, David, in the early stages as Wembley hosted one of the dullest halves of football in its eight-year history.
An early injury to Fabian Delph, who hobbled off with a hamstring problem, did not help. Roy Hodgson had to re-jig his team, with substitute Ross Barkley now in the XI.
Rooney tried his best to make an impact, but failed to divert Gary Cahill’s header past Sommer from close range and then rolled a low shot wide.
The Swiss looked the more dangerous side and Joe Hart snatched the ball from Xherdan Shaqiri’s feet after he had been slipped in by Granit Xhaka. After the restart England began with more purpose but the Swiss still had the better chances and Hart reacted quickly to deny Xhaka.
Hodgson then brought Kane on for Jonjo Shelvey and ten minutes later the drab game finally had a goal.
Rooney touched the ball to Luke Shaw, who picked Kane out with a precise pass to the back post and the Tottenham striker drove low into the net. When Sterling was brought down by Timm Klose, Rooney had the perfect opportunity to make it a fairytale and he did not waste it.