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Rooney's brace kills off weary Scotland in derby battle

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Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring England's second goal in their friendly against Scotland at Celtic Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring England's second goal in their friendly against Scotland at Celtic Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turns away from Ikechi Anya of Scotland during their friendly at Celtic Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

England's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain turns away from Ikechi Anya of Scotland during their friendly at Celtic Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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Wayne Rooney scores England's second goal in their friendly against Scotland at Celtic Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Wayne Rooney scores England's second goal in their friendly against Scotland at Celtic Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

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England midfielder Jack Wilshere battles with Steven Naismith of Scotland during their friendly at Celtic Park. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

England midfielder Jack Wilshere battles with Steven Naismith of Scotland during their friendly at Celtic Park. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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Andrew Robertson celebrates after scoring for Scotland in their friendly against England at Celtic Park. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Andrew Robertson celebrates after scoring for Scotland in their friendly against England at Celtic Park. Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring England's second goal in their friendly against Scotland at Celtic Park. Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It had to be Wayne Rooney inspiring England to put the Auld Enemy to the broadsword. It had to be the occasional Celtic fan, the man who most understood the nature of occasions here, scoring twice in a deserved England victory.

Rooney had advised his younger players of the need for total commitment at Parkhead, and he certainly showed it, moving even closer to Bobby Charlton's goalscoring record.

The memory of a wretched World Cup remains but England finished the year on an upbeat note. A sixth win on the spin was achieved with goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rooney. His 45th goal in 101 internationals took him clear of Jimmy Greaves, and his 46th carried him even closer to Gary Lineker's 48 and Charlton's 49.

Barring some slack marking by Raheem Sterling when Andrew Robertson briefly made it 2-1, this was a good night for England from back to front. Fraser Forster had no chance with Robertson's strike and is now vying strongly with Ben Foster to be Joe Hart's understudy.

Nathaniel Clyne again impressed at right-back. Luke Shaw made a gutsy contribution at left-back. Jack Wilshere excelled in the centre while Danny Welbeck and Oxlade-Chamberlain were tireless.

But Rooney took the headlines, deservedly so for a performance in a historic match that takes him even closer to dominating the history books.

A historic fixture, originally contested in 1872, had been typically fast and furious, graced with little technical class in the first half, barring Wilshere's sumptuous pass to create Oxlade-Chamberlain's header and then that cleverly guided header from Rooney for England's second just after the break, taking England's captain closer to Charlton's record.

Rooney had stepped from the bus to some caustic chants while others were treated to almost pantomime-style boos. There were chants about Jimmy Hill, a nod to past collisions, but there was little real venom in the cold Clydeside air. England's goalkeeper for the night, Fraser Forster, was greeted warmly. "We can't boo him,'' said one fan. "He's Celtic.''

If an ambush lay in store, it was being staged in elegant surroundings, and the way England took control of the game in the first 50 minutes reflected the way the players had listened to Rooney's advice about being prepared for the noise. Gary Neville made sure the players did not cut themselves off from the occasion, instructing Wilshere to remove his headphones.

Yet Wilshere delivered one of his best displays, tigerish in midfield and technical when opportunity arose. Wilshere began deep, looking to escape the attentions of Steven Naismith.

Industrious

This time he was flanked by the industrious James Milner and Stewart Downing, who was playing far deeper than his position at West Ham where he has done such damage this season. It all seemed a wasted opportunity for Downing, who went off at the break.

Danny Welbeck, who again was relentless in his running, tracking back and seeking out of chances, and Oxlade-Chamberlain were ostensibly supporting Rooney but were frequently out wide, trying to subdue Scottish insurgents as England shaped up 4-3-3.

It was initially left to Rooney to take on Grant Hanley and Russell Martin of the Championship. Rooney created a moment of early hope, running at Scotland's defence, slipping the ball left to Welbeck, who shot straight at David Marshall.

England were struggling to link moves together until Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain combined so well just after the half-hour. Welbeck drove a ball into Rooney, placing too much pace on the ball, and his captain turned around and glared in frustration.

England were building, though. Wilshere was beginning to impose himself on midfield, outmuscling Chris Martin, the Derby County striker who had dropped back briefly. After 32 minutes, Wilshere played the pass of the half, drilling the ball from left to right, catching out Russell Martin and Hanley, picking out his Arsenal team-mate, Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Watching the ball's journey like a hawk, timing his arrival to meet it perfectly, Oxlade-Chamberlain sent the deftest of flicked headers past Marshall.

As England's players celebrated, the visiting fans went into overdrive with their singing, taunting the hosts, disgracefully abusing Gordon Strachan, and continuing to sing "f*** the IRA" accompanied by the fans' band. As the band enjoys semi-official status with the FA, there will surely be an inquiry by the governing body.

Close to the Scottish dug-out, Wilshere then fell awkwardly when challenged, staying down, rubbing his ankle but was soon up again, albeit slightly gingerly, before continuing.

Rooney was also relishing the occasion, dribbling down the left, until stopped by a thumping challenge, a totally fair one, from Celtic's Scott Brown, much to the delight of the fans.

Rooney had told his players that this would be a test of character, and they had to stand tall and strong. Shaw was impressing down the left, outsprinting Hanley, setting up another attack.

England's bench were shouting to wind down the clock to half-time, to avoid being caught on the counter. Ray Lewington was out of his seat, gesturing them to calm down.

Caution

There was soon a change in the scoreline after the break, Rooney making it 2-0 with a clever header. It all stemmed from Charlie Mulgrew taking out Oxlade-Chamberlain, bringing the Celtic midfielder a caution and England a free-kick out on the right. Milner swept in the free-kick, Andrew Robertson failed to clear properly but Rooney still had much to do.

He did well to inject sufficient pace into the ball to direct it past Craig Gordon, who had replaced Marshall at the break.

Scotland looked tired, following their exertions against the Republic of Ireland here on Friday night. Yet Scotland briefly made a real contest of it, Andrew Robertson storming forward, exchanging passes with Johnny Russell before placing a firm low shot past Forster.

Any hopes of a Scottish comeback were swiftly stilled by Rooney. Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana fashioned the chance, Rooney finished emphatically and then celebrated with a cartwheel. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent