Hat-trick hero Defoe relishes Rooney partnership

2010-09-04 07:45

Jermain Defoe believes his partnership with Wayne Rooney has put England back on track after the strike duo tormented Bulgaria in last night’s 4-0 victory at Wembley.

Defoe gave a masterclass in the art of lethal finishing as the Tottenham striker became the first England player to score a hat-trick since Theo Walcott’s treble against Croatia two years.

But Defoe was happy to give most of the credit for his goal-spree to Rooney, who finally cast off the lethargy that dogged him at the World Cup to play a decisive role in all four England goals in their opening Euro 2012 qualifier.

Fabio Capello has tinkered with England’s tactics since the team’s woeful performance at the World Cup and the coach’s decision to allow Rooney to play a deeper role worked wonders for Defoe.

With Rooney playing in the hole between Bulgaria’s defence and midfield, the Manchester United star had plenty of space to thread killer passes through to Defoe and his team-mates.

It was a potent combination which Bulgaria never got close to subduing.

Rooney set up two of Defoe’s goals directly and played a key role in the other, leaving the former West Ham forward looking forward to their next game together against Switzerland in Tuesday’s qualifier.

“When you are playing with great players, I always say you will get chances and it is just a case of taking them,” Defoe said.

“I felt sharp. I think the system we played worked well. I was up front on my own and Rooney was behind me.

“He got on the ball. He is a fantastic players and if you make runs he will find you. Everything seemed to work and I really enjoyed it.

“When I got the second he said ‘keep going and you’ll get the third’ and it’s always nice when you play with a partner and he wants you to get the hat-trick. It’s good.”

Defoe has never been able to establish himself as a regular in the England team despite several prolific seasons at club level.

But his predatory instincts are second to none in the Premier League and, with Rooney providing the ammunition, he was able to enjoy his best night in an England shirt.

“It’s difficult to find the words to describe the feeling you get when you score a hat-trick for your country - it’s the best feeling in the world,” he said.

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