Rooney finds a reason to celebrate (almost)

Troubled striker scores his first England goal for a year as convincing 3-1 win gives Capello the performance he has craved

England captain Steven Gerrard last night acknowledged the contribution Wayne Rooney had made in putting his personal circumstances aside to score his first international goal in over a year and set up a wonderfully fluent 3-1 win over Switzerland.

"He was terrific, like he was on Friday [in the 4-0 win over Bulgaria]" said Gerrard, who had declared before the game that Rooney ought to play, despite the personal allegations surrounding him. "It's great for Wayne. All the talk before was about Wayne so it was nice for him to get the early goal here."

The gloss was taken off Rooney's seventh-minute goal – his first in 967 minutes of international football and his first of any kind from open play in competitive football since last March – by an injury sustained by Theo Walcott as England broke into the area.

Although Walcott was carried from the field by stretcher and taken to hospital for an X-ray on his right ankle, initial reports suggest it was a sprain rather than a break and the England manager, Fabio Capello, said the Arsenal player had told him he would be absent for less than two weeks. That will be a relief for the Arsenal, manager, Arsène Wenger, who learnt yesterday that the ankle injury Robin van Persie suffered at Blackburn will keep him out until mid-October.

Six points from two painfully weak sides must be kept in proper perspective, despite England's commanding early position in Group G. "We're nowhere near there yet," Gerrard wisely cautioned. "It's going to take another two years to prove to our supporters and the rest of the world that England are back. Two good results do not make you a good team. What makes you a good team is qualifying easy out of the group and going into a big tournament and proving you can mix it with the best."

Walcott's injury allowed substitute Adam Johnson, England's best player, to confirm his arrival on the international stage when he coolly rounded Diego Benaglio for England's second goal on 69 minutes. The night also brought a first international goal, a minute from time, for Darren Bent, another of the 30-man World Cup squad who failed to make the final cut.

"I never thought my England chances would fade," the Sunderland striker said last night. "As long as my Premier League form is good, international football will never be too far away. I started the season like I finished last season. Hopefully, I can score more. I have always scored goals for my clubs."

Rooney's celebrations after his goal were muted, perhaps understandably given he has endured two days of intense scrutiny over his alleged relationship with prostitute Jennifer Thompson.

His general contribution also faded in the second half, but the injured England captain, Rio Ferdinand, offered his own commentary on his manchester United team-mate's goal through his Twitter feed: "I told u my boy would get a goal."

Capello was more circumspect about Rooney, who must now face his wife, Coleen, and a return to Goodison Park on Saturday. "I told you yesterday that he had been OK in training," Capello said. "I'd seen that. Now he plays an official game really well. The players want to play without other things on their minds. They can focus on the game alone. He did that today."

This was arguably England's best display since the win in Croatia two years ago on Friday. Capello's explanation was clear. "You know my answer. We are really good in this period because we are fresh," he said. "All the players can run, their minds are free. Everything they try to do comes off."

Gerrard added: "The first half performance was perfect, we did everything the manager asked and got the game plan spot on. We got a bit lazy in the second half and the passing wasn't quick enough but it was never in doubt People were talking about how good Switzerland were in defence but we tore them apart."

Jermain Defoe limped off for a second successive international, though Capello said he had not sustained any kind of injury.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleComedian launches stinging attack on PM
Life and Style
The collection displayed Versace’s softer side, with models wearing flowers and chiffon dresses in unusual colourings
fashionVersace haute couture review
News
Andy Murray shakes hands after defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in the third round of Wimbledon, Saturday 4 July, 2015
Wimbledon
Arts and Entertainment
'The Leaf'
artYes, it's a leaf, but a potentially very expensive one
News
Yoko Ono at the Royal Festival Hall for Double Fantasy Live
people'I wont let him destroy memory of John Lennon or The Beatles'
News
Could Greece leave the EU?
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'