How did Wayne Rooney fare in England's victory against Portugal?


The suspicion remains that the main reason England appear likely to start Euro 2016 set up in a diamond formation is Roy Hodgson's understandable loyalty to Wayne Rooney.

By playing him at the tip of a diamond, the England manager can retain his captain and the national team's record goalscorer while starting the Premier League's two leading goalscorers of the past season, Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane.

We've analysed Rooney's contribution during England's 1-0 win against Portugal - at a time when many believe his position should be under threat.

All-round influence

England's Wayne Rooney in action during the International Friendly at Wembley Stadium, London.
(David Davies/PA)

For all that he has often proved his most threatening from a deeper position in the final third, Rooney did not demonstrate it at Wembley on Thursday night. The lack of width a diamond midfield provides means that a team's front two are required to regularly come wide, and when they did, he too rarely provided a goalscoring threat through the middle.

While his under-appreciated defensive contributions were again consistently effective, and his link-up play again showed intelligence, England were a more threatening team when Hodgson sacrificed Vardy and moved Rooney up front.

England's captain Wayne Rooney directs the players during the international friendly soccer match between England and Portugal at Wembley stadium in London, Thursday, June 2, 2016
(Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

That was partly because Raheem Sterling came on and directed play from the number-10 role Rooney started in - the Manchester City forward has long looked the more natural option there - and partly because of the creativity substitute Jack Wilshere provided from midfield, but Rooney's variety up front far exceeds that of the one-dimensional Vardy.

His leadership, as it has since he was appointed captain, again impressed.

Goalscoring threat

England's Wayne Rooney, right, collides with Portugal's goalkeeper Rui Patricio during the international friendly soccer match between England and Portugal at Wembley stadium in London
(Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

In the past week's 2-1 friendly defeat of Australia, Rooney demonstrated he retains a fine goalscoring threat, but on Thursday at Wembley he did not. He chose not to shoot from one fine position on the edge of the area when he could have shot at goal, but England were far from consistently creative.


England's Wayne Rooney
(John Walton/EMPICS Sport)

Rooney was far from looking to regularly split Portugal's defence with the passing ability and vision he obviously has, but that they were so unambitious and remained so deep following Bruno Alves' red card did much to contribute to that. He did, however, regularly contribute to build-up play and possession with the variety of positions he took up from the freedom he was given, and was restricted in his options when Vardy and Kane moved wide.

If little else, he appeared content, and confident, which with Rooney is so often much of the battle.