Rooney’s equaliser in the 75th minute gave England hope. Ten minutes later, Luis Suarez stole the headlines with his second goal, giving Uruguay a 2-1 victory and pushing England to the brink of elimination.
While Rooney did his part for England at last, he still left Itaquerao Stadium in defeat. He slowly walked to the middle of the field to trade jerseys, then departed.
Earlier, Rooney leaped several feet in the air and had a perfect first chance to make a name for himself in the World Cup, but his header hit the bar. He had another opportunity early in the second half, when goalkeeper Fernando Muslera slid to stop his shot.
That left the 28-year-old Rooney with 28 career World Cup shots, just eight on target. Then, he found the net.
Rooney was sprinting toward the net and scored from three yards out from a low cross by Glen Johnson. That sent Rooney into a mad celebration as he pointed to the sky, blew kisses and embraced Johnson before being chased down by others.
It was his 40th goal in 94 international appearances, but only his second in the past eight games. Rooney has had the support of England coach Roy Hodgson, who insists there always will be one player who gets extra scrutiny.
Hodgson celebrated the goal with an emotional outburst as he jumped up and down on the sideline, arms raised to the sky.
The Manchester United striker out-jumped Uruguay defender Martin Caceres on Steven Gerrard’s free kick in the 31st minute, but his header hit exactly where the post and upright meet.
While Rooney did make the cross that set up Daniel Sturridge’s equalising goal in a 2-1 opening loss to Costa Rica on Saturday, three of his own shots went off target.