Slovenia accuse Rooney of trying to dupe referee

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The Independent Online

Wayne Rooney heads into Wednesday's World Cup qualifier against Croatia with his integrity under the spotlight after Slovenian players accused him of conning referee Jonas Eriksson during England's 2-1 victory on Saturday.

Rooney, who last week insisted he was an "honest player", fell to the ground after he and defender Bostjan Cesar tugged each other's shirts. Eriksson awarded a penalty which Frank Lampard converted to put England 1-0 up. Rooney later told team-mates his shirt had been held, but the Slovenes accused him of deceiving the officials.

Midfielder Nejc Pecnik said: "Rooney went down far too easily and because he is a big name, it made it easier for the referee to make a decision. Lots of people dive in football, that's sport. When Rooney went down he kicked Cesar on the ankle and he's twisted his ankle. We were very unlucky – our player was injured and somehow England got a penalty."

Steven Gerrard defended Rooney, saying the 23-year-old had been impeded. Gerrard said: "I asked him straightaway if there was any contact, and he said he got dragged back. I didn't get a good angle of it because I played the pass, but Wayne said there was contact."

Last week, in the wake of the two-game ban handed by Uefa to Arsenal's Croatian striker Eduardo for diving, Rooney insisted his conscience was clear. He said: "Everyone who watches me play knows I am an honest player. I play the game as honestly as I can. If the referee gives a penalty there is nothing you can do. It is a penalty."

Croatia coach Slaven Bilic expressed his fury at the treatment of Eduardo, who is preparing for a chorus of boos at Wembley. Bilic said: "We are talking about a player who is a role model of a sportsman. I cannot understand how he can be punished."

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