England vs. San Marino: What We Learned from Rooney's First Game as Captain
It didn't take long for England's new captain to make a statement.
On Friday, wearing the armband for the first time in competitive international play, Wayne Rooney led the Three Lions to a convincing 5-0 victory over San Marino in their World Cup Qualification match at Wembley Stadium in London.
A day earlier, after learning that he'd be captaining England during the squad's first match in over a month, Rooney admitted (via BostonHerald.com) that he hasn't been happy with his performances on the international stage.
Am I unfulfilled at international level? That is fair. I haven’t been at my best for England and that is something I’m desperate to put right.
I think us as a team and as a country, we need to be more successful and better in tournament football.
Though it wasn't against a top-calibre opponent, Rooney delivered a memorable performance against San Marino, scoring two of England's five goals on the day, including the one that gave his side a 1-0 lead just moments before halftime.
In the 35th minute, Danny Welbeck was taken down in the box, giving England's newly minted captain a golden opportunity to grab the lead for his country.
Rooney made no mistake, blasting the penalty into the top left corner, despite a valiant effort from San Marino's keeper.
Moments later, Welbeck converted a chance of his own, giving England an insurmountable lead going into the second half.
Later, in the 69th minute, after Aaron Lennon was tripped near the edge of the box, Rooney opportunistically collected the ball in stride and unleashed a beautifully curled shot straight into the bottom right corner.
With the goal, the 31st of his international career, Rooney moved into fifth place on England's all-time scoring list, but more importantly, he demonstrated that he's ready to assume the responsibility of leading his country on the field.
Once regular captain Steven Gerrard returns from his one-game suspension, Rooney will more than likely have to wait a while before he dons the armband once again, but he's shown that he's ready to do so when the time comes.
He hasn't been a dominant force for England in the past, but maybe being appointed captain was just the thing Rooney needed to inspire him to play like the world-class offensive talent that he is.
We'll have to wait to see when and if Rooney ever becomes the squad's captain on a full-time basis, but if his debut was any indication, he could be the best man for the job.
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