Wayne Rooney demonstrated both sides
of his footballing personality as England's build-up to the opening
World Cup clash against the United States continued with an unimpressive
win against Platinum Stars.
Rooney made a goal for Joe Cole and scored himself late on after
Jermain Defoe had given Fabio Capello's side an early lead against the
This was what Capello will want to see from Rooney in the World Cup -
but there was also a worrying example of the dark side of his character
that lurks beneath the surface and which he must keep under wraps if
England are to flourish in South Africa. Rooney became embroiled
in a second half spat with Platinum Stars' Kagiso Senamela, and was
eventually booked for dissent before England coach Stuart Pearce
appeared to deliver orders to calm down.
It was all played out in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, with
local schoolchildren dominating the attendance and the familiar sound of
the vuvuzelas sweeping around the stadium.
Capello will have other issues to address, with both Peter Crouch and
Emile Heskey producing undistinguished performances in each of their
45-minute stint as they battle to partner Rooney. Joe Hart got the
nod to start in goal before being replaced by Robert Green at the
interval, but a limited Platinum Stars side meant neither had the chance
The home side did have a chance to deliver a swift response to
Defoe's strike, but Bradley Grobler was off target from the penalty spot
after Glen Johnson fouled Mzikayise Mashaba. Capello started
with Defoe and Crouch up front as he kept Rooney back - and there was a
chance for Hart to stake his claim for a place in goal against the
United States. Defoe made his mark inside three minutes when he
provided an easy finish after he had been played in by Steven Gerrard.
As most of the crowd assembled in this neat oval arena sat back and
waited for an England goal rush, slipshod defending from Johnson
presented the local side with an opportunity to equalise when he
hesitated while trying to clear and hauled down Mashaba.
Sadly for the expectant home crowd, Grobler's effort was rushed and
hopeless, flying yards over the bar with Hart untroubled. The rest
of the opening period was unimpressive fare from a side who travelled to
South Africa with high hopes of winning the World Cup - with Platinum
Stars hardly placed under siege.
Interestingly, Capello chose to spend most of the interval on the
turf with his stitutes rather than go into the dressing room and
confront those who performed so poorly, something for which they may
have had cause to be grateful. Predictably, Rooney and Heskey were
paired in attack for the second half, but the Aston Villa striker's
first contribution was to send a header apologetically wide from eight
yards. Rooney then set the alarm bells ringing by becoming
involved in a needless flashpoint with Senamela in a midfield scramble
involving a couple of hefty tackles and some barging. England's striker
briefly lost all composure, eventually being booked for dissent then
receiving a touchline lecture from Pearce.
He showed the more acceptable face of his game as England wrapped up
the win with two more goals, first setting up Joe Cole for a simple
finish then slamming home James Milner's cross in the closing minutes.
Rooney was also involved in an incident that demonstrated Heskey's
current crisis of confidence in front of goal. He delivered an open
invitation for his strike partner to score, but Heskey mystifyingly
chose not to accept, choosing instead to play an awful pass that gave
Aaron Lennon little chance.
England romped to victory in a low-key affair - but hardly enough to
set the pulses racing before their World Cup campaign gets under way
against United States on 12 June.