Aided by the reduction of Estonia to ten men for most of the second half in Tallinn, England avoided a potentially disappointing stalemate by edging past their hosts to maintain their 100% record in Group E on Sunday. A cleverly executed right foot free-kick by Wayne Rooney after 73 minutes proved enough to earn them three more points and keep them top of the group. Momentum and confidence are major elements of a successful side and Roy Hodgson will be grateful that his England team are doing just enough so far in the group to keep both going, with two handy away wins already in the bag.

A bright start from the Estonians briefly threatened to upset the expected script for the match, as Fabian Delph looked to have been fouled in midfield but the referee waved play on, allowing them to get a strike on goal that Gary Cahill managed to defend. The scare averted, England settled into dominating the play and created several first half chances that they could not convert. There are signs of a blossoming understanding beginning to develop between Jack Wilshere and Rooney, none more so than when a neat chipped pass by the Arsenal midfielder was volleyed just over by his captain on 14 minutes. Two minutes later there was another chance for Rooney, but he somehow failed to connect with a cross from the left as the ball ran across his body.

As the game entered a quiet period on the pitch, the ever noisy crowd broke into the strains of "Hey Jude" off it, perhaps to remind England's captain of his Liverpool roots.

Leading up to half time there were further efforts from Danny Welbeck (who was relatively quiet on the day) and the influential Wilshere who found the side netting, but neither troubled the keeper Sergei Pareiko and his defence unduly.

Estonia were proving to be obdurate opponents, never more so than after they had been reduced to ten men shortly after half time as full back, Ragnar Klavan received his second yellow card. He could have few real complaints after a crude challenge on Aston Villa's Delph as he headed towards the opposition's penalty area, but he showed his disgust at the decision by taking an age to leave the arena, walking around most of the touchline of the tightly packed ground.

Rooney used the free-kick as a "sighter" for his later success, as his shot was well off target.

Hodgson decided to freshen things up on the hour and brought Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on for Delph with Raheem Sterling replacing Jordan Henderson a few minutes later. It almost brought instant dividends as the "Ox" had a free header after a Calum Chambers' cross from the right, but only managed contact with his shoulder.

Then came Rooney's moment of class after Sterling had his ankles tapped on the edge of the Estonian area, just to the left of centre. Captain Rooney took control of the resultant free-kick, curling his right foot clip over the wall and low to the keeper's right. It looked as though Pareiko might just make the save, but he only succeeded in pushing it into the side netting inside the goal.

No doubt this time about Rooney claiming the goal after his potential second against San Marino had been given as an own goal instead, but plenty of analysis afterwards that the keeper's footwork wasn't the best here. It mattered not to England and they finally had some reward for their endeavours.

There were further chances for England and Rooney in the four minutes of time added on at the end. Great vision by Wilshere found his skipper in space and bearing down on goal only to see his attempted chip over the keeper's body be blocked. Wilshere was then checked on the edge of the penalty area in a similar position to that which brought the earlier goal, but Rooney's shot from the free-kick this time sailed safely over the bar.

It was the end of the action and England had to be content with the 1-0 scoreline.

Rooney may reflect on the many additional chances he has squandered in the last two matches, which had he converted them would have left him far closer to the national goalscoring record he clearly seeks. As it is, a goal from each of the recent qualifiers has helped his team to continue winning and on a personal level placed him just one behind Jimmy Greaves on 43 goals. His next match, likely to be the next Euro 2016 qualifier at home to Slovenia in November, will see him reach the century of caps for England and join an elite group including his good friend Steven Gerrard. One gets the feeling that so long as he keeps scoring then England will keep winning matches and qualify for France 2016.

In the other match played last night in the group Lithuania lost 2-0 at home to Slovenia, as two first half goals from Milivoje Novakovic were the difference between the sides. It has been a good few days for the Japanese based striker to follow on from his winner from the penalty spot against the Swiss in their last game. The win brings the two teams level on points in the group, three points behind early pace setters England.