Wayne Rooney earns 100th cap and scores as England defeats Slovenia
LONDON (AP) — Wayne Rooney scored for England on his 100th appearance before Danny Welbeck's double secured a 3-1 victory over Slovenia in European Championship qualifying on Saturday.
As Roy Hodgson's Group E leaders made it four wins out of four, San Marino earned a landmark draw against Estonia, ending a run of 61 consecutive losses for world football's lowest-ranked team.
The milestone stone match for Rooney at Wembley saw the England captain net his 44th international goal — canceling Jordan Henderson's own goal — to go five behind Bobby Charlton's record 49.
"It was tough because they took the lead and we had to show our character," Rooney said. "It was a great reaction from the players."
England surged six points clear of Slovenia and Lithuania, which was at Switzerland later Saturday.
Before the game in London, Rooney collected his commemorative golden 100th cap from Charlton to cheers but the atmosphere became subdued as England labored throughout the first half, looking disjointed.
The game came to live 10 minutes into the second half when England finally found the target, with Phil Jagielka's header saved by goalkeeper Samir Handanovic.
But at the other end, Henderson inadvertently flicked Milivoje Novakovic's free kick into his own goal when a headed clearance went wrong.
Just as quickly, the action was back in the Slovenia penalty area, with Rooney earning the penalty following Bostjan Cesar's challenge and scoring from the spot.
England's fortunes had turned, and Welbeck punished Slovenia twice.
Adam Lallana cut in from the right and a deflected shot was parried by Handanovic, but Miso Brecko's headed clearance went straight to Welbeck. The Arsenal striker's scuffed shot put England in front in the 65th minute.
It was a slicker build-up to Welbeck's second goal. Kieran Gibbs played in Welbeck, who played a neat one-two with Raheem Sterling before knocking the ball into the net in the 72nd.