England skipper Steven Gerrard has hailed the performance and discipline shown by Wayne Rooney in helping secure a vital point from the World Cup qualifier with Montenegro in Podgorica on Tuesday night.
Rooney scored for the fourth successive qualifier in the 1-1 draw — the first England player to achieve that feat since David Beckham 10 years ago.
The Manchester United striker had been sent off on his last appearance in the stadium 17 months ago but his behaviour ensured a repeat was never likely to happen.
Gerrard said: “Wayne is a fantastic player and a great goalscorer. If the lads in the team can create the service for Wayne, we know he will score goals.
“He also deserves credit for that goalscoring record. Hopefully he will get more goals and fire us to the World Cup.
“I also thought his behaviour was magnificent. He had been on the agenda in the press all week with people wondering how he was going to behave.
“I thought he handled himself magnificently and got us that important goal.”
Rooney’s goal was his 35th for his country and he is now only five behind fourth-placed Michael Owen in the all-time list of England goalscorers.
But his header failed to secure victory as Montenegro staged a second half revival to equalise through substitute Dejan Damjanovic and remain two points clear of England.
Gerrard said: “At half-time we were very happy. We were in control and we played very well for 45 minutes.
“Then for some reason we stopped playing after the break and we let Montenegro back into the game.
“We finished the game really strongly but we are disappointed with the 30 minutes in the second half when we let them back into the game.”
Gerrard added: “There is an element of frustration there but this result is not the end of the world. It is still in our hands.”
Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill, meanwhile, admits curing his side’s ills in front of goal will be no easy task.
The team’s scoring struggle is at the heart of their uninspiring start to life under O’Neill, who has yet to taste victory in nine matches at the helm.
In five World Cup qualifiers to date they have found the net just three times, all in draws, and have surrendered plenty of winnable points along the way.
They created more than enough chances to put away both Luxembourg and Azerbaijan at home and were on top for much of Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat to Israel, conceding twice late on.
“We got a wee bit of a lesson from Israel in terms of being clinical,” said the former Shamrock Rovers boss.
Elsewhere, Wales captain Ashley Williams believes Chris Coleman should be given the chance to lead the Dragons in their quest to qualify for Euro 2016.
Welsh aspirations of securing a place at the 2014 World Cup were effectively ended by Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Croatia in Swansea, a result which leaves Coleman’s side 10 points off the pace in Group A with only 12 points up for grabs.
Wales have paid the price for a poor start to the campaign, having lost three of their first four games and, as with their Euro 2012 campaign, an improvement in form has come too late.
Coleman, whose current contract runs up to the 2014 finals in Brazil, recently admitted it had taken the 6-1 mauling in Serbia last September for him to come to terms with the task of succeeding Gary Speed following the death of his close friend.
Williams said: “We definitely want him to stay, obviously I’ve been saying for a long time that he is doing a great job.
“He came in and took the job in unbelievably tough circumstances, but I think you can see it’s getting back to where it was under Gary Speed.”
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