England's Wayne Rooney vies for the ball with Malta's Bjorn Kristensen during the World Cup Group F qualifying match at Wembley.
England's Wayne Rooney vies for the ball with Malta's Bjorn Kristensen during the World Cup Group F qualifying match at Wembley. Kirsty Wigglesworth

Fans boo skipper Rooney as England eases to victory

FOOTBALL: Caretaker England manager Gareth Southgate has stood up for Wayne Rooney after the skipper was subjected to booing during the World Cup qualifying win over Malta at Wembley Stadium.

England was never troubled in the 2-0 win but after a decent first half the performance dropped off, with Rooney, playing in a deeper midfield role, receiving the brunt of the fans' displeasure.

Southgate said England's passing was slow at times but said the booing of Rooney was unnecessary.

"I don't understand it (the boos), but that seems to be the landscape,” Southgate said. "I've got no idea how that's supposed to help him, for sure.

"His experience and leadership has been crucial throughout this week. It's fascinating to get an insight into his world over the last 10 days. Every debate seems to focus on him.

"The onus on him is enormous and the criticism of him is at times unfair. He ploughs on and captains his country with pride.”

The win, courtesy of goals from Daniel Sturridge and Dele Alli, pushed England two points clear of Scotland, which drew 1-1 with Lithuania and Slovenia.

The next game for England is Wednesday morning (AEST) in Slovenia and Southgate said the team must do better but said there may have been mitigating circumstances for the showing against Malta, ranked 176th by FIFA.

"Given the situation we picked up, we've come a hell of a long way to get everything together to give a performance where we knew we'd be in control of the game,” he said.

In other World Cup qualifiers Germany made it two wins from two in defence of its title with a 3-0 victory over the Czech Republic, Northern Ireland defeated San Marino 4-0 and Poland beat Denmark 3-2.



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