Rooney ends drought as England ease past Estonia

England 3 Estonia 0

England 3 Estonia 0

The Wayne Rooney renaissance began at Wembley as England left themselves needing a win in Russia on Wednesday to book their place at Euro 2008.

At the end of a week in which Rooney admitted he had not played well for his country in two years and an incredible 1,211 days his since last competitive goal for the Three Lions, the Manchester United man finally hit the target as Steve McClaren's side recorded a comfortable win over Estonia.

Shaun Wright-Phillips had already put England in front when Rooney lashed home Joe Cole's low cross, the highlight of a fine, industrious performance which should provide him with a welcome surge of confidence.

Taavi Rahn's memorable own goal completed England's haul, and a fifth successive Group E win - all by the same score, to move five points clear of Russia, who have a game in hand.

But victory came with a hefty price tag as Ashley Cole was stretchered off in obvious pain after his left ankle crumpled underneath him at the start of the second half as he tangled for possession with Kaimar Saag.

It is difficult to see how Cole could possibly be fit for the crucial trip to Moscow, leaving McClaren with a tricky selection dilemma to ponder for a game which could see England confirm their place in Austria and Switzerland next summer a month ahead of schedule.

Mindful England dropped two points against Macedonia earlier in the qualifying campaign four days before their visit to Croatia, McClaren had repeatedly stressed his determination not to let Russia enter his players' thoughts until Estonia were beaten.

In truth, the only likelihood of England slipping up against a team who have picked up only four points, three of them against the part-timers of Andorra, was either to get a couple of players sent off or become overanxious in their search for an opener.

The former scenario was never going to arise and with regard to the latter, England were given major assistance by the only player within Estonian ranks they actually know.

With Derby, Sunderland, Arsenal and, now, Watford, Mart Poom has seen a decade of service in this country, amassing well over 200 first-team appearances.

Many more repeats of the blunder which gifted Wright-Phillips his opener and Poom will not get many more chances to shine.

A scorer against Israel at Wembley last month, Wright-Phillips surged between Dmitri Kruglov and Rahn as he went after Micah Richards' astute through ball. Having successfully achieved his aim, the Chelsea man let fly from an acute angle more in hope than expectation.

Inexplicably, his shot flew straight between Poom's legs and into the Estonia net. With just 11 minutes on the clock, it was effectively game over.

But, while the result may not have been in doubt, there were still a few issues to resolve, not least Rooney's need to get his name on the scoresheet.

The young striker was still at Everton when he last found the net for his country in competitive combat and the long wait for a goal has extended too far for a player of his capabilities, even if, according to McClaren, his talent is still measured in potential.

Rooney landed one audacious chip onto the roof of Poom's net before he eventually broke his duck, turning effortlessly onto Joe Cole's low cross and unleashing a powerful shot that flicked off Raio Piiroja and nestled neatly in the corner.

Within a minute, England had a third, a most bizarre own-goal from Andrei Stepanov, who stuck out his neck out to intercept Ashley Cole's cross and from fully 20 yards beat Poom with firm header Alan Shearer would have been proud of.

The comfort of his team's position did not stop McClaren continuing his voracious note-taking. Among his scribblings must have been another big tick for man of the match Gareth Barry, who continues to impress as Steven Gerrard's central midfield partner.

For all the debate over Frank Lampard's return from injury, Gerrard had it spot on when he said Barry could regard himself as extremely unlucky if he did not retain his place - and nothing is likely to change in Moscow.

Sol Campbell too could be pleased with his 70th international appearance and his first under McClaren, although in truth he did not have that much to do.

England's defence was so redundant, McClaren was able to withdraw Rio Ferdinand - one of three men a booking away from being banned next week - at half-time.

It all seemed too good to be true, and so it proved as Cole clutched his ankle in agony after getting injured trying to atone for an error of judgement by Ferdinand's replacement, Joleon Lescott.

Chelsea team-mate John Terry, who faces his own fitness fight to make the Russia game, quickly raced down after the full-back, returning after a couple of minutes to offer Lampard what seemed to be a bleak assessment of the situation.

Lampard made his entrance in place of Michael Owen near the end, and was greeted by widespread booing.

By then England had become somewhat disjointed anyway as they ambled to the final whistle.

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