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England challenge ignited by Rooney in EURO 2004 Group B win against Croatia

Croatia 2-4 England
Two goals from Wayne Rooney helped stylish England come from behind to book a quarter-final berth.

Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring his second and England's third goal against Croatia
Wayne Rooney celebrates after scoring his second and England's third goal against Croatia ©Getty Images

Wayne Rooney scored twice as England came from behind to defeat Croatia in Lisbon and progress to the UEFA EURO 2004 quarter-finals.

England's win secured second spot in Group B and a quarter-final meeting with hosts Portugal here on Thursday. Sven-Göran Eriksson's side had trailed to Niko Kovač's fifth-minute opener before two goals at the end of the first half. Rooney assisted Paul Scholes for the first and the midfielder returned the favour on the stroke of half-time. Rooney sealed England's progress with his fourth goal of the competition after 68 minutes before Igor Tudor and Frank Lampard traded goals.

EURO 2004: All you need to know

England, unchanged from the victory over Switzerland, were quickly in their stride and Michael Owen's early break promised much before Dario Šimić's well-timed interception. Croatia responded and scored with their first attack as England's set-piece vulnerability was again exposed.

David Beckham conceded a free-kick on the right and Milan Rapaić's excellent delivery caused chaos in the England defence. David James was forced to parry Ashley Cole's skewed attempt at a clearance and midfielder Niko Kovač pounced to squeeze in the rebound.

EURO 2004 highlights: Spotlight on Wayne Rooney

England almost issued an immediate riposte but Tomislav Butina saved smartly from Scholes. Croatia responded with an attack of their own and James had to be alert to save from Tomislav Šokota. Back came England, with Rooney particularly prominent, but Croatia gave a reminder of their own menace when Dado Pršo's shot from the edge of the box was saved by James.

Suitably warned, England finally drew level five minutes before half-time. Butina was forced off his line to deny Owen, put through by Lampard's pass, and the ball broke to Rooney. The forward headed goalwards with Scholes applying a close-range headed finish; his first international goal since June 2001.

The roles were reversed a minute into added time as a good passing move culminated in Scholes teeing up Rooney 20 metres from goal. The striker took one touch and lashed the ball beyond Butina. The England duo combined again soon after the restart with a threaded Rooney pass setting up Scholes but his fierce shot from 25 metres was well saved by Butina at full stretch. Again England came close to sealing the win but Owen chipped narrowly over after a swift break.

Best goals of EURO 2004

Needing victory to progress, Croatia responded and Šokota's fine low ball somehow eluded his team-mates. Pršo then did well to create space on the edge of the area but his subsequent shot was blocked. Giovanni Rosso fired in a further shot just after the hour as Croatia attacked with purpose.

The match slipped from their grasp when Owen's excellent pass on the turn played through Rooney, who again belied his tender years with an assured finish. It was pretty much his last act: he went off to a rapturous reception, having all but taken England beyond the first stage of the UEFA European Championship final for the first time on foreign soil.

Not quite, as Croatia creditably hit back within minutes when Tudor headed in from a free-kick, but Lampard cancelled that strike out after 79 minutes with a typical run and shot beyond Butina.


Wayne Rooney rampant against Croatia
Wayne Rooney rampant against CroatiaIcon Sport via Getty Images

Sven-Göran Eriksson, England manager: "I don't remember anyone making such an impact on a tournament since Pelé in the 1958 [FIFA] World Cup in Sweden. It is not just about the goals that [Wayne Rooney] scores; he is a complete footballer. He drops back and defends, he has vision and he understands the game. What is there to say about him that hasn't already been said?"

Wayne Rooney, England forward: "The team did very well today and I'm lucky enough to get two goal. We just go out there and try to do our job the best we can."

David Beckham, England midfielder: "When you see [Rooney] perform, nothing fazes him. It was a big game tonight. He has produced again and he deserves all the praise he gets."

EURO 2004: Team of the Tournament


England line up in Lisbon
England line up in LisbonAFP via Getty Images

Croatia: Butina; Šimunić, Robert Kovač (Mornar 46), Tudor, Šimić (Srna 67); Rapaić (Olić 55), Živković (c), Niko Kovač, Roso; Šokota, Pršo
Substitutes: Vasilj, Didulica, Tokić, Tomas, Neretljak, Leko, Babić, Klasnić, Bjelica
Coach: Otto Barić

England: James; Ashley Cole, Campbell, Terry, Gary Neville; Scholes (King 70), Gerrard, Lampard (Phil Neville 84), Beckham (c); Rooney (Vassell 72), Owen
Substitutes: Robinson, Walker, Bridge, Carragher, Butt, Hargreaves, Joe Cole, Dyer, Heskey
Coach: Sven-Göran Eriksson

Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy)

Man of the Match: Wayne Rooney (England)

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