Wayne Rooney praised by England manager Gareth Southgate

Kristopher Nichols
November 17, 2018

Gareth Southgate spared his England players a dressing down ahead of their winner-takes-it-all game against Croatia because he did not want to rain on Wayne Rooney's parade.

It would have been a dream end to a 3-0 win that saw Southgate juggle honouring Rooney and building for the future, with Callum Wilson - one of three debutants against the United States of America - completing the scoring after first-half goals from Jesse Lingard and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Wayne Rooney believes the future is bright for England as a youthful Three Lions eased past the United States 3-0 at Wembley on his worldwide swansong on Thursday.

Should England avenge their heartbreaking World Cup semi-final defeat by Croatia on Sunday at Wembley, Southgate's men can build on the progress made by surpassing expectations in Russian Federation this summer by qualifying for the semi-finals of the inaugural Nations League. "Unfortunately I couldn't get a goal but I'll remember it for a long time", Rooney said.

Southgate said: "It would have been flawless for Wayne to score but we saw moments of real quality from him. We've had real shoots of progress and achieved some outstanding results", said Southgate.

"Playing with Wayne Rooney was a dream come true because obviously he is a big legend and a role model to me".

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"It's shown the quality that Croatia have", Southgate said.

Christian Pulisic, who plays for Borussia Dortmund, was on the field for just the second time for the U.S. since the team failed to qualify for the Russia World Cup some 13 months ago.

The DC United striker did come close to adding to his 53 goals when he forced Guzan into an excellent stop late into the game.

"You laugh and joke about it afterwards but in the midst of the game you're not really thinking about it".

Southgate made eight changes to the side that defeated Spain 3-2 in the Nations League last time out and, while praising the impact several new faces made, he feels there is still room for improvement. "Some young players went in and gave a really good account of themselves". It's a moment I'll treasure for the rest of my life. I believe I was good enough to get back in the team, but I never really got that opportunity.

"I didn't like us without the ball as much. Some of the attacking play was really exciting".

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