MARSEILLE — Wayne Rooney started what might be a new era in his lengthy England career with a deep-lying midfield role against Russia at Euro 2016.
Sitting back in the center of the pitch on Saturday, waiting for time and space to play a decisive pass, Rooney did the job he finished the English season performing at Manchester United in Louis van Gaal’s final months as manager.
One through ball in particular to Dele Alli could easily have resulted in a goal, and Rooney provided a calm, controlling presence in midfield in the 1-1 draw. Only a spectacular save by Russia’s Igor Akinfeev, who deflected a powerful shot onto the bar, prevented him from scoring.
England coach Roy Hodgson defended his decision to take his captain off for Jack Wilshere after Eric Dier’s 73rd-minute goal, rejecting suggestions it paved the way for Russia captain Vasily Berezutsky to head his team’s equalizer in stoppage time.
Hodgson said Rooney had “a good game” but had tired in the humid atmosphere.
“We just thought, with the control we have in the game and Jack Wilshere on the bench, that we could have the luxury of taking Wayne off the field and that Jack would do a similar job, and I think that’s exactly what happened,” Hodgson said.
“We didn’t honestly believe that we were in great difficulties during that period of time and we would see the game out at 1-0.”
With England’s forward trio of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana making little impact, the pressure was on the midfield to shine, with Rooney spraying passes, Alli making incisive runs and Dier scoring from a free kick.
Making his 112th appearance at the age of 30, Rooney was often allowed time on the ball by an ineffective Russian midfield, in which Alexander Golovin and Roman Neustaedter were both making their competitive international debuts.
He may not be so fortunate in England’s next game in Group B, against Wales on June 16.
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.