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Dublin: 9°C Tuesday 20 April 2021

A Jack Wilshere thunderbolt was the highlight of England's win over Slovenia

Roy Hodgson’s side inched closer to qualification thanks to a 3-2 away victory.

Image: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Updated at 19.11

JACK WILSHERE’S SENSATIONAL double and a late Wayne Rooney strike maintained England’s perfect record in Euro 2016 qualifying courtesy of a 3-2 win over Slovenia in Group E.

Arsenal midfielder Wilshere opened his international account with a fizzing drive before doubling his tally with a 25-yard strike and Rooney’s winner moved him level with Gary Lineker on 48 international goals.

England’s early dominance had failed to produce a goal and Slovenia surprised Roy Hodgson’s side by going into the break ahead through Milivoje Novakovic.

The visitors were back on attack in the second half and finally got their reward as Wilshere lashed home his first goal for his country after 57 minutes.

And he was far from finished as he picked up a flick from Adam Lallana and unleashed an unstoppable drive to put England ahead.

Necj Pecnik thought he had rescued a point six minutes from time, but Rooney wrapped up the win for the visitors in the 86th minute — putting the gloss on England’s first unbeaten season since 1990-91.

Raheem Sterling was at the heart of England’s positive early play and should have opened the scoring inside five minutes, the Liverpool man lifting his shot over after a superb pass from Rooney.

With Slovenia sitting deep, England were allowed plenty of possession, enabling Hodgson’s men to control the game and fashion another chance for Sterling after 14 minutes.

Again it was Rooney with the assist, but this time the forward saw his low shot from the edge of the penalty area deflected wide.

Sterling nearly turned provider after 19 minutes with a teasing low cross that Rooney was unable to convert, but three minutes later England’s captain brought the first save out of Samir Handanovic with a low shot.

Joe Hart had been a mere spectator for much of the half at the other end, but, after saving from Branko Ilic, he was beaten by Novakovic eight minutes from the interval.

Josip Ilicic’s throughball caught the England defence flat-footed, allowing Novakovic to race clear and slot under the advancing Hart.

England’s attempts to get back into the game soon after half-time produce little until three minutes before the hour when Wilshere rifled home from the edge of the area, the Arsenal man converting after substitute Lallana had been muscled off the ball.

Wilshere’s goal gave England the lift they needed and Hodgson’s side should have taken the lead shortly after, Rooney twice blazing over after excellent work from Sterling.

His blushes were spared, though, as Wilshere fired home emphatically after excellent build-up play involving Jordan Henderson and Lallana.

England were then aggrieved to see Slovenia captain Bostjan Cesar stay on the pitch as he appeared to lead with an arm on Rooney, the Chievo defender escaping any punishment for the challenge.

Slovenia looked to have salvaged a late point when Pecnik rose above Kieran Gibbs to nod his side level, but Rooney had other ideas — restoring England’s lead with a cool finish from the edge of the box to move him one behind record goalscorer Bobby Charlton.

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