Rooney: We've got one foot in the finals
Published 09:52 07/09/11 By MirrorFootball
Wayne Rooney declared England had one foot in next summer's European Championship finals after helping them take maximum points during the international break.
Rooney scored twice in Friday's 3-0 qualifying win in Bulgaria, while Manchester United team-mate Ashley Young netted the only goal of last night's clash with Wales.
England went into the international break level on points with Montenegro at the summit of Group G but ended it six clear and knowing a draw in next month's top-of-the-table showdown would seal their place in Poland and Ukraine.
"It's a nice to get the six points and more or less have one foot in the finals," said Rooney, who failed to add to his remarkable recent goal glut last night.
"It was a tad frustrating at times but the result was the most important thing and we're thankful for that."
Wales went into last night's game on the back of an impressive win over Montenegro but Rooney admitted Gary Speed's side took England by surprise.
"They did, to be honest - they played really well," said the striker, who watched visiting substitute Robert Earnshaw miss an absolute sitter in the second half, which would have cancelled out Young's opener.
"Thankfully, we held on towards the end to get the win. We weren't at our best."
Rooney was nevertheless content with England's work in the past week, which also saw manager Fabio Capello introduce more young players into the set-up.
"It's nice, obviously, for the young players to get their chance and they've all done well when they have done," Rooney said.
"It's obviously great for the future for England."
One man who looks to have come of age at international level is Stewart Downing, who was one of few outstanding performers last night.
The Liverpool winger laid on Young's goal but was at a loss to explain why England found it so much tougher yesterday than on Friday.
"That's football for you," he said. "International football is tough, but all credit to Wales.
"They passed it about about, moved, and they made it difficult for us at times.
"But, we can play better than that - we know that.
"The main thing is we got the win."
Last night's victory was England's first in five home games going back a year.
Asked if they had been feeling any extra tension playing at Wembley, Downing said: "I don't know.
"Maybe we didn't pass it as well as we did against Bulgaria.
"If we did that, we might have got a few more goals."
England's final game is away, however, and Downing was well aware of the consequences of last night's victory.
"It puts us in a good position going into Montenegro, which is going to be another tough game - but one we look forward to," he said.