Wayne Rooney edged one step closer to Sir Bobby Charlton’s scoring record by saving England’s blushes in the Baltic.
Rooney is now just six shy of becoming England’s greatest ever goal scorer thanks to a 74th minute free-kick, which Sergei Pareiko fumbled into his own net to hand the Three Lions a 1-0 win over 10-man Estonia.
For much of the match England looked like coming away from the A. Le Coq Arena with nothing more than a draw.Roy Hodgson’s team dominated the game from start to finish, but they wasted chance after chance.
They were even given a huge helping hand by Estonia captain Ragnar Klavan, who was sent off three minutes into the second half for a second booking.
Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were guilty of missing chances, but the biggest culprit was Rooney, who spurned three good opportunities.
Estonia, ranked 81st in the world, might have held on for a famous draw had the England captain not made up for his mistakes by clipping a majestic dipping free-kick over the wall and into the net off the post.
Hodgson, who started with Raheem Sterling on the bench, spoke of the attacking potency of his squad before the match, but he will be concerned about the profligacy his players exhibited here on Sunday night.
Still, the England manager will also be mindful that his team have now recorded three wins from three in their Euro 2016 qualification campaign.
Meanwhile, Hodgson denied he had decided to substitute Wayne Rooney immediately before the captain’s winning goal against Estonia.
Substitute striker Rickie Lambert was being readied on the sideline as Rooney stood over his 73rd-minute free-kick, but sat down with a smile after watching the Manchester United man’s shot squirm through goalkeeper Sergei Pareiko’s hands.
Hodgson said: “I was in discussions with other members of my staff.
“We were going to put Rickie Lambert on and we were discussing which of the forwards to take off.
“I hadn’t made up my mind, it was probably more likely to be Danny Welbeck and it had to be Danny in the end because he tweaked his ankle.”
Hodgson was pleased to earn all thgree points in amatch he felt his men dominated.
“To come in at half-time, after playing like that, at 0-0 there was an air of frustration,” hesaid. “We had so many opportunities in and around the box, you think we had to take one, and we didn’t.”