England 5 – 0 San Marino – Three Lions tame group minnows
Wayne Rooney became England’s fifth highest goal-scorer of all time as England comfortably beat San Marino 5-0 at Wembley.
The Manchester United striker broke the deadlock from the spot and his club teammate Danny Welbeck made it 2-0 soon after.
Rooney then scored his 31st international goal after the break to move ahead of the likes of Nat Lofthouse, Sir Tom Finney and Alan Shearer in the Three Lions’ overall goal-scoring chart.
Welbeck added a fourth before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain bagged his first senior international goal to help boost England’s goal difference as they look to qualify for the 2016 World Cup in Brazil.
Despite the low quality of their opponents – San Marino are the joint-lowest FIFA-ranked side in the world – England went into the game with a number of concerns thanks to the recent Twitter scandal involving Ashley Cole and John Terry’s decision to retire from the international game.
Roy Hodgson opted to start Everton duo Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka in their place and the pair were rarely tested during a one-sided affair.
Oxlade-Chamberlain set the tone early on when his rising shot was well-tipped over by Aldo Junior Simoncini in the San Marino goal.
Simoncini then collided with Theo Walcott as the Arsenal winger bore down on goal, with the challenge forcing Walcott to leave the field early with a bruised lung.
Rooney should have scored the opener soon after but his diving header went wide, while Michael Carrick was unlucky to see his shot cannon off the bar and Welbeck was unable to react quickly enough to tuck home the rebound.
Welbeck was involved in England’s first goal as he was brought down by Simoncini in the box before Rooney stepped up to slam home the resultant penalty.
It was 2-0 just minutes later as Welbeck cheekily backheeled Aaron Lennon’s cross in a goal reminiscent of his strike against Sweden at Euro 2012.
England continued to dominate proceedings after the restart as Gary Cahill miscued from close range while a Baines free-kick just whistled past the post.
Ezequiel Rinaldi Danilo then had San Marino’s only chance of the game but he sliced high and wide when well placed.
Normal service was resumed when the ball fell to Rooney on the edge of the box and the former Everton striker made no mistake with a fine curled finish into the bottom corner on 70 minutes.
Welbeck scored his second of the game as he latched on to a low Tom Cleverly cross to poke home at the near post just 2 minutes later.
The score-line became more emphatic late on as Oxlade-Chamberlain curled home from close range.
Speaking after the game, Hodgson expressed his dismay that Simoncini did not see red for his challenge on Walcott.
“In normal circumstances the San Marino goalkeeper would have been sent off and we would have gone 1-0 up from a penalty earlier on,” he told BBC Sport.
“Had the referee given the penalty and sent the keeper off, which he should have done, we would have scored more goals.”
England now sit top of World Cup Qualifying Group H with seven points from three games and will look to extend that lead when they travel to Poland on Tuesday.
Laurence Taylor, Football Correspondent