A late Rooney strike and two from Wilshere seal victory

Sunday 14 Jun 2015
Wilshere's first two England goals and late Rooney strike sealed victory for the Three Lions

Wayne Rooney’s late strike gave England victory in Slovenia, but it was Jack Wilshere’s stunning brace that was the catalyst to maintaining their perfect record in qualifying.

Rooney’s goal, his 48th for the Three Lions equalling Gary Lineker, came just moments after Nejc Pecnik had levelled for Slovenia and silenced the vocal Stozice Stadium support.

However, Wilshere was the leading man for the day, supported by Adam Lallana, with two second-half strikes of pure quality. The first cancelling out Milivoje Novakovic’s opener for Slovenia, and the second a screamer to put England in front.

Slovenia 2-3 England

Euro 2016 Qualifier
Sunday 14 June
Stadion Stozice, Ljubljana

And the result sends England into the summer with a spring in their step, leading the Group E table and being unbeaten in a season for the first time in 24 years.

They also looked much more lively than in their 0-0 draw in Dublin seven days earlier, with Roy Hodgson making three changes to the starting eleven – Kieran Gibbs, Fabian Delph and Andros Townsend coming in for Ryan Bertrand, James Milner and Lallana.

And they should have been rewarded with an early goal when Raheem Sterling was presented with a glorious opportunity with just three minutes on the clock. But when one-on-one with Samir Handanovic, he lifted the ball over the Inter Milan keeper and the bar.

Highlights: Slovenia 2-3 England

Sterling was causing all kinds of problems on the left flank, twisting and turning the Slovenian defence one way, then the other. His trickery carved out a shot for himself from the edge of the box, which was deflected wide, then another produced an inviting ball across the face of the goal, but no one was on hand to tuck away.

A quick England break then resulted in a chance for Rooney. Delph fed the skipper with a pass into the box and Rooney drilled low towards the corner of the net, but the big keeper was down superbly to flick around the post.

Hodgson’s men were severely punished for their failure to capitalise on their first half possession when, on 37 minutes, they were undone by one simple pass.

Sterling went close to giving England an early lead

Sterling went close to giving England an early lead

England’s high defensive line was cut open when Josip Ilicic spotted the run from Novakovic. The Nagoya Grampus Eight forward was not tracked, allowing him through one-on-one with Joe Hart before expertly slipping the ball past the shotstopper and inside the post.

At the break Hodgson made a change, bringing Adam Lallana into the action in place of Phil Jones with Jordan Henderson slipping back in to cover the right-back role.

And while Wilshere will get the plaudits for his two goals, Lallana’s introduction proved a wise move by the manager. It was the Liverpool forward’s trickery that unsettled the Slovenian defence for the first before the ball fell kindly for Wilshere on the edge of the box.

Jack Wilshere tussles with Ales Mertelj for the ball in midfield

Jack Wilshere tussles with Ales Mertelj for the ball in midfield

With a little space and time to compose himself, the Arsenal midfielder lashed into the top corner with Handanovic flapping and hoping – but there was better to come.

Before Wilshere’s second, though, Rooney was then presented with two close-range chances as England stepped the pressure up again. Both were too high when they should have been giving the keeper something to think about.

Then a move that was pleasing on the eye created the second. Lallana’s superb back-flick outfoxed the Slovenian defence and found the feet of Wilshere. From 25 yards, no doubt confidence soaring, the 23-year-old unleashed a tremendous thunderbolt which arrowed into the top corner.

Substitute Nejc Pecnik looked to have earned a point for Slovenia with a towering header in the closing stages which left Hart stranded, but while the fans were still celebrating, Rooney broke clear to slip past Handanovic and extend England’s unbeaten run to eleven games.

Rooney secured the three points late on

Rooney secured the three points late on

Slovenia (4-2-3-1): 1 Samir Handanovic; 2 Miso Brecko, 5 Bostjan Cesar (c), 6 Branko Ilic, 13 Bojan Jokic; 22 Ales Mertelj, 8 Jasmin Kurtic; 17 Andraz Kirm, 20 Kevin Kampl, 7 Josip Ilicic; 11 Milivoje Novakovic

Subs: 10 Valter Birsa on for Illicic, 61; 19 Nejc Pecnik on for Kirm, 71; 14 Dejan Lazarevic on for Kurtic, 79

Subs not used: 12 Jan Oblak, 16 Nejc Vidmar, 3 Sinisa Andjelkovic, 4 Miral Samardzic, 9 Robert Beric, 14 Dejan Lazarevic, 18 Rajko Rotman, 21 Martin Milec, 23 Benjamin Verbic

Coach: Srecko Katanec

Goals: Novakovic (37), Pecnik (84)

England (4-1-2-3): 1 Joe Hart; 2 Phil Jones, 5 Gary Cahill, 6 Chris Smalling, 3 Kieran Gibbs; 7 Jack Wilshere; 4 Jordan Henderson, 8 Fabian Delph; 11 Andros Townsend, 10 Wayne Rooney (c), 9 Raheem Sterling

Subs: 17 Adam Lallana on for Jones, ht; 14 Theo Walcott on for Townsend, 74; 22 Nathaniel Clyne on for Delph, 85

Subs not used: 13 Rob Green, 23 Tom Heaton, 12 Ryan Bertrand, 15 Phil Jagielka, 16 James Milner, 18 Charlie Austin, 19 Tom Cleverley, 20 Ross Barkley, 21 Jamie Vardy

Manager: Roy Hodgson

Goals: Wilshere (57, 73), Rooney (86)

Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (Spain)

By Jamie Bradbury FA Editor at Stadion Stozice, Ljubljana