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UEFA Europa League

Robin van Persie backs Wayne Rooney

Netherlands striker Robin van Persie came to the defence of England's Wayne Rooney, his teammate at Manchester United, at the Dutch news conference on Friday.

They will play together again during the fall, but their national teams have had very different experiences in Brazil. Van Persie has scored three goals for the Netherlands, who top group B and are assured of a place in the knockout stage.

- Van Persie: Netherlands will be fine without me

Rooney scored his first World Cup goal for England in their second game against Uruguay, but the Three Lions can not advance after two successive defeats.

As England's talisman, Rooney has heard criticism of his performance while playing on the wing, out of his regular position, but Van Persie belives England's failures are not on his United teammate.

"It's really unfair for people to try to blame him for England's disqualification," Van Persie said. "Wayne played well against Italy, even out of position, and set up a goal. In the Uruguay game he scored, worked his socks off and came within inches of netting three more.

Praying For A Goal
Wayne Rooney and England have crashed out of the World Cup after just two games.

"He has given everything for his country, just like he always does. Wayne is one of the reasons why I joined Manchester United and just by training with this guy you know he is a world-class player.

England have one more match against group leaders Costa Rica, but the FA have already given manager Roy Hodgson their backing through 2016.

"As for England, they gave it a proper go," Van Persie said. "They had chances and were unlucky in both games. But that's how it is: a fine line between progressing and getting disqualified in football these days.

"I am not in a position to advise England on what to do, but I think it is always important to invest in young players, facilities and coaches."

Information from Fernando Duarte was used in this report.


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