Rooney leads England to victory in Basle

Switzerland 1 England 3

Wayne Rooney put his personal problems to one side just as he promised and fired England on their way to a Euro 2012 qualifying win over 10-man Switzerland.

Substitutes Adam Johnson and Darren Bent also found the net after Stephen Lichtsteiner had been sent off, to ensure Xherdan Shaqiri's thunderbolt was of no real value.

But Rooney will hog the headlines, just as he has done since Sunday, when the allegations over his private life were first made.

The Manchester United star had reassured manager Fabio Capello he would be fully focused on the match, so the Italian started with the 24-year-old up front.

And, just as ordered, after 12 months and 11 games without a goal for his country, Rooney was in the right place to apply the neat finish to Glen Johnson's cut-back.

The celebration was not extensive, especially as Theo Walcott lay injured.

But inside there must have been a sense of relief and justification at his decision to remain with the Three Lions when it had been claimed by some that he should have gone back to the north-west.

Injured skipper Rio Ferdinand hailed the effort of "my boy" and, if Jermain Defoe had been similarly accurate, England would have wrapped up their second straight Group G win before half-time.

As it was, by the time Rooney departed with 11 minutes left, Capello's side were still not safe - victory only assured when Bent fired home his first England goal two minutes from time.

Against opponents good enough to beat Spain at the World Cup, Capello decided the old Everton partnership of Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott would provide him with his central defensive pairing.

Yet such was England's dominance that over half an hour had passed before their hosts created a chance.

If there was something vaguely predictable that Rooney should choose this night to end his long goal drought, the sight of Defoe wasting a trio of belting opportunities before the break was a total surprise.

Defoe, hat-trick hero against Bulgaria at Wembley on Friday, first failed to control a looping Steven Gerrard cross when Switzerland had played a diabolical offside trap that left the Tottenham man totally on his own inside the area.

Then a smart piece of skill from Johnson took him to the by-line. The cut-back was precise. Inexplicably, Defoe failed to make a decent connection and bounced his effort over.

In fairness to Defoe, the third chance was all his own making and Diego Benaglio was the villain of the piece, beating away the shot after England's lone orthodox frontman had wriggled free of three close attendants inside the Swiss box.

David Degen did eventually fire an angled effort over as the home side roused themselves but it was the kind of efficient, effective eye-catching English performance that made you wonder how and why what happened in South Africa took place.

Not that it was the only question, with many wondering why Johnson remained at home over the summer when his Manchester City team-mate Shaun Wright-Phillips got a ticket to South Africa.

The loss of Walcott with what could turn out to be a broken ankle sustained in an accidental collision with Steve von Bergen as Rooney was hitting the net will bring a groan from Arsene Wenger.

For Johnson it was the opening he has been craving.

One of six City players to finish the game, the winger whistled a long-range effort over and was a menacing presence for the Switzerland defence every time he collected possession.

He volleyed another decent chance wide at the start of the second period, when Benaglio also produced a fine fingertip save to deny Glen Johnson.

The England wobble Capello must have feared arrived just before the hour.

Two dropped crosses by Joe Hart and a run by Alexander Frei which caused English hearts to miss a beat, before Gerrard booted clear, brought nervousness that the dismissal of Lichtsteiner for chopping down James Milner should really have eased.

That Johnson soon skipped round Benaglio to slot home a second, which the Swiss seemed to think should have been ruled out because Defoe was lying in agony with an injury that forced him off, only added to a belief that the job was done.

Shaqiri shook England out of their comfort zone with a 30-yard thunderbolt but, after Wright-Phillips had failed to provide Bent with a tap-in, the Sunderland man finally got his long-awaited England goal when he drove home at the death.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash