Tuesday 17 September 2019

Heartfelt send-off for Rooney as new faces shine in comfortable win

 

Wayne Rooney says farewell to the fans. Photo: PA
Wayne Rooney says farewell to the fans. Photo: PA

Nigel Whittaker

Wayne Rooney got a heartfelt send-off and a first-hand glimpse of Eng;and's future as debutant Callum Wilson completed a comfortable 3-0 win for Gareth Southgate's experimental side against the United States.

Focus on number 10 switched from Downing Street to Wembley as the Three Lions' all-time top scorer and most-capped outfield player brought the curtain down on his international career.

Rooney received a warm reception before and after coming on for his 120th appearance for England, who prepared for Sunday's crunch Nations League clash with Croatia with a comfortable victory thanks to goals from Jesse Lingard, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Wilson.

Tribute

Wilson wrapped up victory on a night that also saw Lewis Dunk and Alex McCarthy make their international bows, with 18-year-old Jadon Sancho handed his first start as the Three Lions looked to the future while also paying tribute to one of their greatest players.

Rooney received a standing ovation when brought on in the 58th minute of a match that Southgate's men were already in control of thanks to a fine Lingard effort and Alexander-Arnold's first goal for his country.

There was to be no fairytale farewell goal for the 33-year-old, but he was first to celebrate with Wilson after the debutant scored the third.

His appearance in this friendly may have split opinion in the build-up, but there can be no doubt that the support for the Wayne Rooney Foundation and chance for fans to say thanks was only positive.

Afterwards, Rooney said: "It went as I imagined it, really. Being around the players has been great; seeing how they're working and how they're improving has been great for me.

"Tonight was a great way to finish off my international career. It's something I'll remember for a long time."

Meanwhile, Tin Jedvaj's stoppage-time strike earned Croatia a thrilling 3-2 victory over Spain in Zagreb to set up a winner-takes-all Nations League clash with England.

Victory at Wembley on Sunday will earn Croatia a place in the inaugural finals of the tournament after the World Cup runners-up responded from two Spain equalisers.

Andrej Kramaric put Croatia in front after 54 minutes, but Spain levelled through Dani Ceballos within two minutes.

Jedvaj restored the lead, only for Sergio Ramos to convert from the penalty spot after 77 minutes when Sime Vrsaljko was ruled to have handled the ball.

As both sides sought a winner, it was Jedvaj who netted three minutes into added time to bring Croatia level with England on four points, two behind Spain, who hammered the Croats 6-0 in the reverse fixture in Elche in September.

Victory

Germany put their Nations League woes to one side as Leroy Sane's first senior international goal set them on their way to a 3-0 friendly victory over Russia in Leipzig.

It has been a miserable year for Joachim Low, whose side are on the brink of relegation from the elite league of European clubs mere months after an embarrassing group-stage exit at the World Cup.

This win will do little to reduce the pressure on the Germany head coach but a confident display from a side missing several regulars should boost morale ahead of Monday's clash with Holland.

Irish Independent

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