Wayne Rooney became England’s all-time leading goalscorer after netting his 50th international goal to help the Three Lions defeat Switzerland 2-0 and top Group E in their 2016 UEFA European Championship qualifying campaign.
Harry Kane broke the deadlock at Wembley Stadium in front of over 75,000 fans with a clinical low drive on 67 minutes, before Rooney smashed in a spot-kick late on to surpass Sir Bobby Charlton’s long-standing record to seal our country’s eighth successive victory.
England, who defeated tonight’s opponents 2-0 in Zurich back in September thanks to Danny Welbeck’s brace, are now the only country to boast a 100 per cent record throughout the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign so far.
Manager Roy Hodgson made four changes from the side that defeated minnows San Marino 6-0 at the weekend, with Chris Smalling and Gary Cahill chosen as the preferred centre-halves. Meanwhile there were also starts for Manchester City duo Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling.
The quartet’s return to action meant Everton trio Phil Jagielka, John Stones and Ross Barkley, plus Leicester City forward Jamie Vardy, were all dropped to the bench ahead of tonight’s clash.
Meanwhile Switzerland, who have not defeated the Three Lions since their 2-1 triumph in Basel back in 1981, fielded familiar faces in Premier League stars Valon Behrami, Gokhan Inler and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Despite a bleak start to the game inside Wembley; the opening stages weren’t without drama as Delph’s seventh international cap lasted just 20 seconds.
The City midfielder pulled up with a tight hamstring just seconds after referee Gianluca Rocchi blew his whistle, forcing boss Hodgson into an imminent change, with Barkley coming on in his place.
It took until the 15th minute for England to carve out their first real goalscoring chance of the first-half, with Luke Shaw whipping in a dangerous ball into the Switzerland penalty area.
The Manchester United left-back’s cross picked out Arsenal forward Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain just ten yards out, but he couldn’t control the velocity of the delivery and his effort went to waste.
Just moments later; man of the moment Rooney almost became England’s all-time leading goalscorer inside 17 minutes when he broke through the Swiss midfield, but the captain squeezed his shot narrowly wide of the left corner.
However Rooney, who equalled Charlton’s tally of 49 internationals goals on Saturday against San Marino, was at the thick of the action again shortly after.
He cleverly threaded through James Milner one-on-one with the visiting goalkeeper Yann Sommer, but the Liverpool midfielder’s attempt was straight at the Borussia Mönchengladbach shot stopper.
Then on the half-hour mark; Switzerland, who are currently ranked 17th in the world, briefly threatened in quick succession through the lively Shaqiri.
Stoke City’s marquee summer signing firstly flashed a curling effort from 20 yards high and wide of Joe Hart’s net before the Manchester City goalkeeper came off his line brilliantly to deny the winger poking the ball past him for the game’s opening goal of the game just moments later.
With just five minutes to go before the interval; both England and Switzerland had chances to break the deadlock at the perfect time, although Rooney couldn’t climb high enough to meet Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross before Josip Drmic scuffed his low shot wide of the mark.
With the scoreline goalless after 45 minutes, substitute Barkley scuffed a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock just moments into the second-half, but he fluffed his shot well wide after Sterling’s patient build-up.
Fifty-seven minutes on the clock; the visitors carved out their best chance of the match so far when Granit Xhaka connected with Ricardo Rodriguez’s corner, only for Hart to be alert at his near post to palm his close-range header round the post for another set-piece.
Jonjo Shelvey, who earned his third international cap tonight, then made way for Spurs star Kane just prior to the hour-mark before watching England teammate Milner fire a long-range strike wayward of Sommer’s left-hand post.
But just nine minutes after coming on; Kane, who has failed to find the back of the net in the Premier League so far this season, gave the Three Lions a deserved lead when Shaw’s low cross was brilliantly met by the Tottenham ace.
The Manchester United defender stumped the Swiss back four when he drilled in his delivery towards the penalty spot, where Kane brilliantly latched onto the ball to blast it past a helpless Sommer in the visiting goal.
Again Switzerland hit back with two quick fire chances themselves; firstly defender Timm Klose made a darting run from centre-half to battle his way past numerous England bodies before his eventual shot on goal was deflected into the thankful hands of Hart.
Then Stoke’s Shaqiri threatened to pull his country level on 82 minutes after creating some space for himself on the edge of the penalty area, but he dragged his shot wide of the mark.
Less than 60 seconds later; referee Rocchi pointed to the spot at the opposite end of the pitch as Sterling was adjudged to have been fouled by Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Xhaka.
With seven minutes remaining on the clock; Rooney was gifted the perfect opportunity to net his 50th international goal inside England’s national stadium from twelve yards, with over 75,000 fans holding their breath as he stepped up to take the honours.
GOAL! Rooney smashed the ball into the top left-hand corner to give shot stopper Sommer no chance, despite the faintest of touches from the ‘keeper on the way in.
The Manchester United skipper burst into an array of emotions after the 29-year-old reached his half-century goalscoring milestone on his 107th international cap to rubberstamp his mark as an England legend.
Strikes from Kane and captain Rooney were enough to give England a comfortable 2-0 win over Switzerland to extend the Three Lions’ winning streak to eight straight games during the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, meaning Hodgson’s men are now unbeaten in their last 26 major tournament qualifying ties.
Fixtures against Estonia and Lithuania will wrap up England’s qualifying campaign next month, where the Three Lions can start turning their attentions to next summer’s European Championships in France after finishing top of Group E.