Football

Roy Hodgson defends decision to replace record-seeking Rooney

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Roy Hodgson defended his decision to deprive Wayne Rooney of the chance to break Sir Bobby Charlton's goalscoring record in England's 6-0 win over San Marino.

Rooney equalled Charlton's 49-goal tally with a 12th-minute penalty, but was then taken off just before the hour as the minnows were starting to tire.

If Rooney had stayed on, he would have almost certainly scored his 50th goal, but Hodgson would not alter his plan to take the striker off to keep him fresh for Tuesday's qualifier against Switzerland at Wembley.

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"The substitution was planned with a view to Tuesday night," the England manager said.

"It would be nice if Wayne could get the 50th goal against Switzerland on Tuesday night, but one thing is for certain - he'll get it.

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"If it's not on Tuesday, it might be October, if it's not October, it might be in November, and if it's not in November, it might be 2016. But he'll get it. It's not as if this was his last and only chance.

"If this was his last game for England and he needed one more goal to break the record, I wouldn't have taken him off."

Rooney calmly slotted the penalty past Aldo Simoncini to give England an early lead after the referee spotted a push in the box, and the floodgates soon opened after the break to allow the visitors to seal the win that meant they became the first nation to qualify for Euro 2016.

The skipper held his arms aloft and pointed to the sky in his celebration before waving to his wife Coleen and eldest son Kai, who had made the trip to the Stadio Olimpico in Seravalle in the hope of watching the star rewrite the history books.

His 49th goal may have come against a team containing a bank clerk, an accountant and a man who works in a ceramics shop, but that did not take any gloss off the striker's enjoyment at equalling one of his heroes.

''Obviously it is a proud moment for me to equal Sir Bobby's record and my aim now is to push on, to help the team get the victory on Tuesday night and try to break that record to become the outright holder,'' the Manchester United forward said.

At first sight it appeared Leontios Trattou had awarded the penalty for a push on Rooney by Marco Berardi, who was booked, but there was a suggestion the Cypriot referee had spotted a handball instead.

Either way, San Marino were unhappy that Rooney had been given an easy chance to make it to 49 goals.

"Everybody in the dressing room didn't believe it could be a penalty, because if someone touched the ball with the hand it was an England player," home coach Pierangelo Manzaroli said.

Hodgson was much happier than his opposite number.

The England manager was pleased with the efforts of Jonjo Shelvey on his full debut and also praised John Stones, who earned his fifth cap.

The 68-year-old took great pride in guiding his country to the European Championship with seven wins out of seven - just over a year after England crashed out of the World Cup at the group stages.

"We're very pleased," Hodgson said.

"We knew what we had to do today. It was complicated by a newly-laid pitch.

"But we wanted a disciplined performance both tactically and professionally and we were looking to come away with a victory."

After Rooney had opened the scoring, Cristian Brolli poked the ball into his own net before Ross Barkley scored his first England goal to make it 3-0. Theo Walcott chipped in with two off the bench and Harry Kane also came on to score the pick of the goals.

"At the end of last season Harry was getting so many plaudits. He's already seen the downside of being a forward - the plaudits come quickly but then so do slaps when you have a period of three or four games without scoring," Hodgson said, after watching the Tottenham striker score his first of the season.

"We hope this will set him up."

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Topics:
Football
England Football
Wayne Rooney

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