The Three Lions took a great leap towards next summer's finals in Russian Federation by coming from behind to beat Slovakia 2-1 at Wembley Stadium on Monday night.
Scotland benefited from its old foe's win at Wembley, closing to within one point of Slovakia in fourth place with a 2-0 home victory over Malta.
Nearly 14 years to the day since a 17-year-old Rooney scored the first of his 53 England goals in a European Championship qualifier against Macedonia, 19-year-old Rashford bagged his first competitive strike for his country in stunning fashion.
In a battle of the top two sides in Group F, a win against Slovakia would put England in the driver's seat and firm favourites to qualify for the World Cup next year.
Marek Hamsik forced Hart into a smart save before Rashford scored the victor in the 59th minute, firing home from outside the area to settle Wembley nerves and put England on 20 points, five ahead of second placed Slovakia.
In the second half we controlled the game really well.
This group of players, however, still have it all to prove at major tournaments given many of them were involved in England's miserable showing at Euro 2016. Kyle Walker was the Manchester City player who started the match in which Marcus Rashford and Eric Dier scored the goals to give England a comeback victory, but it was boring again. "At times he has to do better but his work on the ball, the maturity of his performance and his ability to go past people was devastating to the opposition and lifted the whole crowd".
Now top of Group F, the Three Lions are two points ahead of the Slovaks, who lie second, and six ahead of Scotland.
Still Southgate is looking to the positives, and that's strangely enough music to the ears of the Tartan Army.
Southgate may well be tempted to experiment in next month's qualifiers, especially if progress is sealed by the time they head to Vilnius - their final competitive match before the World Cup. They even won without several key players, who either had health issues, or were banned from playing due to violations in previous matches, the Sme daily wrote on September 4. "We feel confident and hopefully we'll get a good result".
"I don't like making a decision like that at half-time because, having played, you know how that feels, but I have got to make the right decision for the team".
He said: "It was an important goal, we started a bit slow as a team - and me on a personal note - but we got back into the game together and got the win in the end which is all that matters".
"We had to show resilience, a good tactical reaction on the pitch".