Blackpool’s Sergei Zenjov was overshadowed by Wayne Rooney last night, but it could have been so different.
The Estonia winger gave England’s superstars a shock in the first minute of the Euro 2016 qualiin Tallinn as he burst through on goal and fired into the side-netting.
Zenjov, who’s played 11 times for the Seasiders this season, worked hard before being replaced in the 78th minute of a match England won 1-0.
The night belonged to Rooney, who saved England’s blushes in the Baltic with his 43rd strike for his country.
His 73rd-minute free-kick was fumbled into his own net by keeper Sergei Pareiko to hand the Three Lions victory over 10-man Estonia and leave the Manchester United star just six goals behind Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time England goalscoring record.
For much of the match England looked like coming away from the A. Le Coq Arena with nothing more than a draw.
Roy Hodgson’s team dominated the game bu wasted chance after chance.
They were even given a huge helping hand by Estonia captain Ragnar Klavan, who was sent off three minutes into the second half after a second booking.
Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were guilty of missing chances but the biggest culprit was Rooney, who spurned three good opportunities against the team ranked 81st in the world.
England coach Roy Hodgson denied he was about to substitute Rooney before the captain’s winning goal.
Rickie Lambert was warming up on the sideline as Rooney stood over his decisive free-kick, then the Liverpool striker sat down again with a smile after watching the skipper’s shot squirm in.
Match broadcaster ITV claimed to have seen a form indicating Rooney was to be withdrawn, though Hodgson insisted the fourth official had not been told of any substitution.
He said: “I was in discussions with other members of my staff. I don’t know about forms going in.
“No doubt you’re going to produce some evidence but that wasn’t my intention.
“We were going to put Rickie Lambert on and we were discussing which of the forwards to take off.
“I hadn’t made up my mind. It was probably more likely to be Danny Welbeck and it had to be Danny in the end because he tweaked his ankle.”
England recorded a third straight win in the qualifiers despite being let down by their lack of a killer touch in front of goal and Hodgson added: “To come in at half-time at 0-0 after playing like that, there was an air of frustration.
“We had so many opportunities in and around the box. You’d think we had to take one and we didn’t.
“Thankfully we took one in the second half, and it’s four wins in a row and five clean sheets. These are things not to be sniffed at.”