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Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 09:18 UK

Rooney revels in Ronaldo struggle

WORLD CUP QUALIFIER: Ukraine v England
Venue: Dnipro Arena Date: Saturday, 10 October Kick off: 1715 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live, live text commentary on BBC Sport website, video available at (subscription required)

England and Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney
Rooney is leading the qualifying goalscoring charts with nine goals

England forward Wayne Rooney will be pleased to see Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal fail to qualify for next year's World Cup in South Africa.

Portugal are in danger of missing out and Rooney said: "It would be nice to see Portugal not there.

"In the last two tournaments they've knocked us out and when we didn't qualify for Euro 2008, we got a lot of stick from Ronaldo."

Rooney is keen to banish the memories of the England's 2006 World Cup exit.

He was sent off during the quarter-final defeat by Portugal in Gelsenkirchen for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho.

The incident will be remembered for Rooney's then Manchester United team-mate Ronaldo appearing to encourage the referee to send him off.

The pressure is not really off us, we are now playing for a World Cup place

England forward Wayne Rooney

But Rooney says Ronaldo's involvement, and the subsequent backlash in Britain, was a blessing in disguise.

"I didn't really get any stick," added Rooney. "Ronaldo took a lot of it and I was pleased about that.

"I still got it when I played for my club but that is just normal. In that instance, I know I could have taken a lot more.

"I was disappointed with getting sent off. I never meant to stamp on him but when I watch it, it does look like I've made a stamp.

"Of course it's a straight red card. I've got no argument about that. I've got a chance to put it right in the next tournament."

Ronaldo said on Friday that his former team-mate was simply enjoying a joke at his expense.

"Rooney knows that he doesn't have good memories of Portugal," he said. "He played against us several times and never won.

"He said it in jest, I don't believe he said it because he doesn't like us."


Portugal are currently third in qualifying Group One, two points behind second-placed Sweden. They must beat Hungary and Malta in their last two matches, both at home, to salvage any realistic hope of a play-off spot.

There are no such worries for England, however, who booked their World Cup place with victory over Croatia last month.

Fabio Capello's men play Ukraine on Saturday before they finish their campaign against Belarus at Wembley next Wednesday.

And although England's qualification is already guaranteed, Rooney insists Capello has made it clear that there is plenty still at stake for the players involved in the final two matches.

"Fabio has said the next two games are the most important games of the group," he told BBC Radio 5 live. "Although we've qualified he wants us to go into the two games looking for the six points and nothing less.

"We know these matches are important, there are not many games before the World Cup starts so we will try to do our best in them.

"The pressure is not really off us, we are now playing for a World Cup place so there are important games for us all.

"We need to try and express ourselves and try and show the manager what we can do."

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see also
England fans set for web-only tie
09 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Ukraine 1-0 England
10 Oct 09 |  Internationals
James keen to regain England spot
07 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Pearce tips Walcott for seniors
08 Oct 09 |  Internationals
England 'must improve 2018 bid'
07 Oct 09 |  Football
FA to stream England U21 fixture
07 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Walcott left out of England squad
04 Oct 09 |  Internationals
Fit players key to 2010 - Capello
03 Oct 09 |  Internationals
England 5-1 Croatia
09 Sep 09 |  Internationals
Rooney 'gobsmacked' by red card
03 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006

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