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?
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
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

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride