London: Wayne Rooney brought down the curtain on his England career, but a youthful Three Lions proved the future is bright by sweeping aside the USA 3-0 at Wembley in a friendly on Thursday.
Jesse Lingard, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Callum Wilson on his debut grabbed the goals in a dominant England display despite Gareth Southgate fielding a very inexperienced side.
However, the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Rooney’s introduction just before the hour mark to win his 120th cap.
England’s greatest ever goalscorer and former captain was also honoured before kick-off with a guard of honour and the presentation of a plaque bearing a golden Three Lions badge by current skipper Harry Kane.
Kane sat alongside Rooney on the bench for the first 45 minutes as Wilson was handed his chance to impress on his international debut.
The Bournemouth striker was in the heart of the action early on as he missed a glorious chance to open the scoring when he failed to connect with Lingard’s cross.
Wilson then had big claims for a penalty waived away when he went down as he tried to round Brad Guzan in the US goal.
Brighton defender Lewis Dunk was also making his England debut and despite being put under barely any pressure, a lack of concentration at the back nearly allowed the visitors to go in front.
As Dunk and Michael Keane appealed for offside, Christian Pulisic broke in behind the England defence and was only denied by a good save from Jordan Pickford.
England quickly put the game to bed with two goals in as many minutes as firstly Lingard received Dele Alli’s pass before curling high into the far corner.
Pulisic has seen his game time at Borussia Dortmund limited by the emergence of Jadon Sancho this season.
The 18-year-old was making his first England start and built on his fine Bundesliga form by teeing up Alexander-Arnold to drill his first international goal into the far corner.
As planned, Rooney got the chance to add to his 53 international goals and was handed the captain’s armband one last time when he entered on 58 minutes.
He didn’t get the fairytale ending despite the crowd imploring him to shoot at every opportunity.
However, Wilson did get his goal to cap a dream debut for the 26-year-old, who has battled through the lower leagues and two cruciate ligament injuries in both knees to make it to the international stage.
Wilson got ahead of his marker to turn Fabian Delph’s cross in at the near post 13 minutes from time.
Rooney had one final chance, but couldn’t help but break into a smile when Guzan got down well to save the DC United striker’s low shot in stoppage time.
Of more pressing concern for Southgate was the chance in the second half to withdraw those players most likely to start Sunday’s now vital Nations League clash with Croatia with Pickford, Alli, Lingard and Ben Chilwell making way.
Croatia’s 3-2 victory over Spain in Zagreb means the winner at Wembley on Sunday will progress to the inaugural Nations League semi-finals.