England captain Wayne Rooney is full of praise for his team-mate Jack Wilshere, who found the net twice against the Slovenians on Sunday afternoon.
Roy Hodgson’s side had won all of their previous Euro 2016 qualifiers, and were looking to make it six successive victories in Ljubljana and take another step towards the Finals. But it was clear they had their work cut out on this occasion, as a drab first half came to life when Milivoje Novakovic took advantage of some poor defending to fire the hosts ahead minutes before the break.
England hit back on 57 minutes when Wilshere ran on to a loose ball from 20 yard to register an equaliser and his first international goal on his 28th appearance. And the Arsenal midfielder then put the Group E leaders ahead with another fine goal, this time taking a touch to set himself up for a shot which he thundered past Samir Handanovic to turn the game on its head.
Slovenia looked to have taken a point when Nejc Pecnik equalised on 84 minutes, but they were on terms for just two before Rooney places the visitors ahead again. This was the Manchester United striker’s 48th goal for his country which puts him level with Gary Lineker and just one off Sir Bobby Charlton’s record, but he was keen for the spotlight to shine on Wilshere.
“He’s been fantastic,” Rooney, who will hope to add to his tally when San Marino provide the opposition in September, told ITV. “Jack and myself have formed a good understanding on the pitch when he’s in that deeper role. He’s still learning, he’s a young player but it’s a new role that he’s taken in his stride. Hopefully he’s injury free because he will be a top player in world football.”
England are now in a commanding position at the top of the group, with a nine point cushion over second-placed Slovenia although Switzerland can close the gap to six if they win their game in hand. It would take a huge collapse for Hodgson to fail to lead his side to the Finals next summer, when they will hope to end a fifty year wait to add to their World Cup success of 1966.
England: Hart, Jones (Lallana 45), Cahill, Smalling, Gibbs, Henderson, Wilshere, Delph (Clyne 85), Townsend (Walcott 74), Rooney, Sterling.