SO much for Sven-Goran Eriksson resisting the nationwide clamour to hand Wayne Rooney his first England start.

This was a triumph for people power - a poll had shown that 83 per cent of fans wanted the boy wonder in the team.

By half-time, manager Eriksson's uncharacteristically bold decision had been vindicated after Everton's 17-year-old striker, the youngest player to represent his country, had unlocked his box of delights to bamboozle the Turkish visitors.

Rooney has been catapulted to the forefront of national acclaim this season, and news of his selection raised expectations at a Stadium of Light already in a state of ferment.

'Pride, Belief, Passion' screamed the advertising billboard on the main approach to Wearside's footballing cathedral.

Passion, of course, has been the buzzword in England circles this week.

And England captain David Beckham, "insulted'' by accusations that he and his colleagues were bereft of passion in Saturday's anaemic 2-0 win over little Liechtenstein in Vaduz, was clearly stung by such barbs.

With under a minute gone, Beckham bristled after being brought down by Emre, the midfielder who featured for Inter Milan against Newcastle in the Champions League.

Beckham denied Emre possession as Turkey attacked soon afterwards, but the skipper's aggressive intent backfired when he picked up a costly yellow card.

Rooney's pride, belief and passion has never been questioned since his sudden emergence this season - and neither has his eye for goal.

Yet it deserted him when the first chance came his way last night, his shot being blocked after goalkeeper Rustu had dropped Steven Gerrard's cross before Beckham drove agonisingly wide.

Rooney did delight the home hordes, however, with a typically impudent back-heel and then a clever piece of ball-juggling that preceded a prodigious, pin-point crossfield ball.

Next he conjured a surging run that was climaxed by a cunningly threaded through-ball which almost set up Michael Owen for an opener.

As a whole, Rooney's robust display was a vignette of the confidence - if not cockiness - of youth.

His starting role also provided further proof of the growing disillusionment in the England camp with goal-shy Liverpool striker Emile Heskey.

Before the hour was up, Heskey's clubmate Owen had made way for Darius Vassell.

And the Aston Villa star, who has proved so potent a force on the international stage, made the breakthrough with an opportunist strike to cap a show of power and pace.

But the abiding memory for most from this game will be the precocious performance of Rooney, who was afforded a standing ovation when replaced by Newcastle United's Kieron Dyer a minute or so before the end.

And it was midfielder Dyer, demoted to the bench, who won the late penalty which Beckham dispatched with more than a little pride, belief - and passion.