Rooney on fire but England are strikers light

England 4 Slovakia 0: Beckham breaks Moore's caps record and delivers trademark cross to set up second goal

Four goals and three injured strikers. As a warm-up for Wednesday's World Cup game with Ukraine this was a more than satisfactory scoreline, but all the heat treatment England's medical staff can muster will be required to bring the strike-force to anything like full strength in the next four days. As a moderate Slovakia were brushed aside, successive blows deprived Fabio Capello of first Emile Heskey, then the substitute Carlton Cole and finally – and almost unbelievably – Cole's replacement, Peter Crouch.

Cole has already been ruled out of the Ukraine game. Tottenham's Darren Bent has had the summons, while Gabriel Agbonlahor will be cursing the injury that caused him to miss Friday night's Under-21 match. But Fabio Capello again made it clear that Michael Owen, the scorer of 40 international goals, has not played sufficient football recently to merit a recall for the first time in a year.

In their only two previous games with England, the Slovaks had been beaten by two goals from Owen after taking the lead. Yesterday there was no danger of that, England scoring early and going on to dominate most of the game despite the disruption to their attack. They were able to afford the luxury of looking at a different formation for the last hour, switching after the second substitution to a 4-2-3-1 with first Steven Gerrard and then Wayne Rooney in the central role behind the main striker. The excellent link-up play between that pair will have given Ukraine's coach, Aleksei Mihailichenko, as much food for thought as the injuries to those around them. Each made an early chance for Heskey, who had not scored for England in almost six years but should have netted twice in a minute.

Slovakia's defensive strongman Martin Skrtel could justifiably claim to have mastered Rooney and Heskey during Liverpool's recent emphatic victories over Manchester United (4-1) and Aston Villa (5-0). Not yesterday, when he was undone as early as the seventh minute. Rooney sent Gerrard to the byline to cut back a low cross for Heskey, who got ahead of Skrtel to nudge the ball in. In the next attack Rooney chipped an enticing cross from the left but the Villa striker, barely four yards out, headed over the bar.

He would contribute little else, a hamstring problem forcing him to limp off with less than a quarter of an hour played. West Ham's Cole arrived, having made his debut as a substitute for 15 minutes of the previous game in Spain, but to his frustration he would manage no longer this time. Just after the half-hour, he strained a groin attempting a shot on a swift England break and had to make way for Crouch.

Slovakia, meanwhile, had improved and shown some inclination to move forward at last. Stanislav Sestak volleyed a cross over the bar and Miroslav Karhan brought a first save from David James, preferred in goal to Ben Foster for the first half.

The goalkeeper would have to pull off another one before the interval, when Ashley Cole's unwise pass from the touchline eluded Matthew Upson – unexpectedly playing after Rio Ferdinand had suffered a recurrence of a back strain – and the visitors' captain and lone attacker, Robert Vittek, hit a good shot that James pushed over the bar.

The second half brought David Beckham and Stewart Downing on to the pitch for Aaron Lennon and Gerrard, though the formation remained the same, with Rooney filling Gerrard's role. Beckham played, as Capello put it, "like Beckham", and his free-kick on the hour should have brought a goal for Crouch, whose header was going in until John Terry helped it on its way and was rightly given offside. Ten minutes later, Beckham retrieved Gareth Barry's cross and chipped back for Rooney to head in.

Crouch had to depart with a back injury, his replacement, Michael Carrick, coming on to play the disciplined Frank Lampard through for the third goal. Rooney, looking offside, neatly knocked in the fourth from Lampard's pass. Now it's over to the medical team.

Booking: Slovakia: Sapara.

Attendance: 85,512. Referee: A Hamer (Luxem).

Man of the match: Rooney. Match rating: 6/10

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home