Fabio Capello has defended his decision to pick Wayne Rooney for last night's Euro 2012 qualifier in Montenegro.
The England coach spoke to the Manchester United striker in the wake of the arrest of his father and uncle over a match-fixing probe and Rooney assured him he was fine. Capello selected the 25-year-old, only for the move to backfire as Rooney was sent off 17 minutes from the end of a 2-2 draw that sealed a place in next summer's Finals.
"It was not a mistake," he said. "He kicked the opponent. Now he will not be able to play the first game in the Euros as he will be suspended. He was not happy because he missed some control and some passes. For this reason, I think he reacted. His reaction was to kick the opponent."
It was a remarkable action, for which Capello had no explanation.
"I can't enter into the head of Wayne Rooney when he plays," said Capello. "I can speak before. I can substitute him. I can find different solutions. But you cannot understand during the game, why things happen. And I don't mean just Rooney."
The striker saw red for kicking out at Miodrag Dzudovic. And he admitted afterwards he had been wrong.
"He made a silly mistake and said: 'Yes, sorry'," said Capello. "It's a red card. You can't defend that. He's a really important player with a lot of experience, and he's played really important games. But he has made a silly mistake. I have seen players like him do that. You can't understand why."
The contrast of the start and endings of the game could not have been more marked. Ashley Young nodded home Theo Walcott's cross to put the visitors ahead before Young teed up Darren Bent for his fourth goal in five games.
The contest turned when Elsad Zverotic pulled one back with the final kick of the opening period, with Andrija Delibasic netting at the death to send Montenegro into the play-offs.
"I am really happy," said Capello. "I said that to the players after the game because our goal was to qualify. We are first in the table. This is the most important thing."