Wayne Rooney eclipsed Sir Bobby Charlton as England's record goalscorer with an 84th minute penalty to crown a comfortable European Championship qualifying win over Switzerland at Wembley Stadium. The Manchester United striker beat goalkeeper Yann Sommer from the spot in the closing minutes to record his 50th international goal after Harry Kane had broken the deadlock in the second half.
The evening had looked for so long as being one of disappointment for Rooney, winning his 107th cap, but after Raheem Sterling was tripped by Granit Xhaka, the 29-year-old did the rest to illuminate a turgid international. England lacked inspiration for long periods, until substitute Kane converted from Luke Shaw's cross but Roy Hodgson's side eventually eased home to maintain their 100% qualifying record and confirm themselves as winners of Group E.
The backdrop that England's penultimate Euro 2016 qualifier was set against firmly surrounded Rooney, who having gone level with Charlton from the spot in San Marino was seemingly destined to create history and supercharge a near-dead rubber at Wembley. With seven wins from seven, Hodgson's side were looking to secure top spot with their eighth group stage win but a three-quarters full home of football were under no illusions as to the real significance of the evening ahead.
Their Swiss opponents had plenty to play for having not yet guaranteed their place in next summer's finals and knew victory would at the very least keep intact their five-point lead over Estonia. Vladimir Petkovic's team selection gave an insight into their intent with the inclusion of three familiar faces from the Premier League in the form of Gokhan Inler, Valon Bherami and Sheridan Shaqiri.
Rooney's crowning moment could have come as early as the fifth minute when, after Fabian Delph went off after suffering a hamstring injury after 10 seconds, Gary Cahill's free header evaded the United striker and was pushed out by Yann Sommer as England threatened an early goal. The visitors were content with spending long passage of the early moments without the ball but their intent to press England was leaving gaps in behind.
The space was allowing Rooney to thrive and after he sent a shot wide of Sommer's left-hand post he laid on the best chance of the opening quarter, but the marauding James Milner was denied at close range. Switzerland meanwhile continued to keep three players in the attacking third, but Josip Drmic fed off scraps as service became as increasing rare as the half wore on.
Shaqiri capitalised on an error from Jonjo Shelvy but only created enough space to balloon a shot over the bar before Hart smothered the ball at the Stoke City's wideman's feet as the game showed rare glimpses of being competitive. While England lacked guile and cutting edge in the form of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling, their opponents were showing minimal ambition with Drmic's shot three minutes before the interval the best they could muster.
England did begin the second half with a greater amount of initiative with Ross Barkley having his shot blocked before Rooney's drive from range was kept out by Sommer. It would be the Swiss who would create the best chance after the break though as Joe Hart kept out Granit Xhaka's low header with an uncertain near-post save.
It took until the mid-way point in the second half for a breakthrough to come as the hosts finally strung together an attacking move with Rooney feeding club colleague Luke Shaw, whose pull-back found substitute Kane, who blasted the ball beyond Sommer with ease. The Tottenham Hotspur striker's third international goal in four caps and second in as many games is in stark contrast to his club form, with him having yet to net this term.
With Switzerland lacking ideas England looked set to claim victory, and Rooney to remain disappointed until just six minutes from time when Sterling was upended by Xhaka, giving the Evertonian the chance to create history. Just like he had against San Marino four days previous, Rooney converted with aplomb to move above Charlton and become England's premier marksman to give England's fans something to cherish.