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  Results & Reviews: Match 19


Super Rooney
18-year-old phenom carries England past Croatia, into quarterfinals

Another two goals, another man-of-the-match award. More superlatives.

Teenage sensation Wayne Rooney has become such a the star of the European Championship that even Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry have to take a back seat.

The 18-year-old striker almost single-handled led England in the quarterfinals of Euro 2004 on Monday, scoring twice in a 4-2 win over Croatia and setting up another.

Rooney enhanced his growing reputation with two goals against Switzerland on Thursday, earning him the best player accolade. He repeated the feat Monday.

His first was a long range shot past the 'keeper as England fought back after going behind 1-0 after five minutes. The second was a cool 18-meter (yard) push that goalkeeper Tomislav Butina couldn't get near which gave England a 3-1 lead.

Group B 21 June 2004 1945 CET

Luz, Lisbon Attendance 57,047


N.Kovac 5
Tudor 73

Scholes 40
Rooney 45,68
Lampard 79
Croatia (4-4-2) Butina; Simic (Srna 67), R.Kovac (Mornar 46), Zivkovic, Simunic; Rosso, Tudor, N.Kovac, Rapaic (Olic 55); Prso, Sokota.
England (4-4-2) James; G.Neville, Terry, Campbell, Cole; Beckham, Lampard (P.Neville 84), Gerrard, Scholes (King 70); Rooney (Vassell 72), Owen.
Referee Pierluigi Collina (ITA)

"I don't really know what to say -- he is absolutely fantastic," England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said. "He is not only scoring goals he plays football. He seems to be a complete football player."

Rooney's well-aimed headed pass also set up Paul Scholes to score for the first time in 30 games spread over three years. Frank Lampard hit the fourth as England, which needed just a point to make the last eight, made sure.

England plays Portugal in the quarterfinals on Thursday after finishing runner up in Group B. France, who beat Switzerland 3-1 to top Group B, plays Greece on Friday.

Rooney is now the top scorer at Euro 2004 with four goals. He was substituted 71 minutes to a standing ovation to ensure he would be available for the quarterfinal after picking up a yellow card against Switzerland.

"The team's done very well today and luckily enough I got two goals," Rooney said.

"It was just going out there and trying to do our job the best we could. I think we played well together. Obviously Michael (Owen) hasn't scored tonight but he set a few goals up for me and I think the partnership's done well."

Rooney had the record of being the tournament's youngest ever goalscoring taken away from him Monday by Switzerland's Johann Vonlanthen, but that hasn't stemmed the growing "Roo-mania."

"When you see him perform, you know nothing fazes him," England captain David Beckham said. "He deserves all the praise that he is going to get."

Niko Kovac and Igor Tudor, who scored an own goal against France, replied for the Croatians who finished in third place ahead of Switzerland.

Croatian coach Otto Baric, whose contract ends after Euro 2004, blamed injuries sustained by Robert Kovac and Dario Simic for his side's defeat. He also refused to jump on the Rooney bandwagon.

"Rooney is a very good player, but not a phenomenon. I wouldn't say it," Baric said. "I think in Europe there are 10 players who may stop him."

Baric didn't elaborate on who and Eriksson wasn't worried anyway.

"Rooney deserves all the front pages and back pages for what he's doing here," the England coach said. "I'm extremely happy with him. We'll see on Thursday if Portugal can stop him or not."

The game kicked off with some 40,000 England fans outnumbering the Croatian followers in the 65,000-seat stadium. But they were silenced after just five minutes.

The Croats took the lead after Beckham needlessly conceded a free kick out on the left. Milan Rapaic drove in a curling cross, which struck Ashley Cole at the far post. England 'keeper David James managed to stop the ball from going in with a one handed save but, in a crowded area, Kovac stuck out a foot as John Terry tried to clear. Kovac scored from four meters.

England's reply came five minutes from the break.

Lampard pushed a defense-splitting ball through to Owen, whose shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. The ball flew up to Rooney who headed it over to the far post with Scholes well-placed to turn it home from five meters.

In the final minute of the half, England broke out of defense and, after Owen and Scholes had twice swapped passes, the ball was fed to the unmarked Rooney -- 25 meters out. He moved a couple of paces forward before unleashing a powerful, low drive that brushed the fingertips of Butina on its way to the bottom left hand corner.

Rooney made sure for England with his second goal in the 68th minute, making it 3-1.

The English pounced on a loose pass from Niko Kovac and Rooney swapped passes with Owen to race clear of the Croatian defense. The teenager kept his cool and placed the ball past Butina for his fourth goal in two games.

After Rooney departed, the Croatians hit back with a second goal.

Cole gave away a free kick out on the right and Tudor leapt to head home at the far post.

England's fourth came when substitute Darius Vassell broke from deep to feed Beckham and the ball was passed on to Lampard to fire a low left footed shot past Butina from the edge of the area.
- AP



  Group Standings

Group B

France 3 2 1 0 7 4 7
England 3 2 0 1 8 4 6
Croatia 3 0 2 1 4 6 2
Switzerland 3 0 1 2 1 6 1


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  Match Stats

2 Goals 4
1 Halftime 2
4 Corners 6
3 Offsides 1
17 Fouls 16
1 Yellow cards 0
0 Red cards 0
17 Free kicks 20
11 Shots on target 15
3 Shots off target 3
0 Woodwork 0
10 Saves 6
0 GL Clearances 0
49% Possession 51%



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