England stroll to a huge win over San Marino in World Cup qualifiers
Roy Hodgson’s much talked about English defence was barely tested against FIFA’s lowest ranked team in the world, as a comfortable 8–0 win set the tone for an important encounter against group leaders Montenegro. Goals from every nook and cranny of the team – including a few firsts of the season, year, and even senior national appearances – will now be a part of this game’s history.
It seemed only to be a question of when – and not whether – England would score against a side that they were expected to beat comfortably if the past results were anything to go by. They seemed to lack a cutting edge in the opening exchanges though, in spite of the inclusion of Jermain Defoe in the starting line-up. Six corners in the opening nine minutes came to nothing, and it took a great combination between Rooney and Oxlade-Chamberlain to rattle the San Marino frame for the first time. A header into the path of the Arsenal youngster from Rooney was well picked up and volleyed towards goal, but only managed to hit the cross bar on its way out.
However, there was to be no such luck for the home side a couple of minutes later when a first time cross from Leighton Baines, which was destined for Rooney, was slotted into his own goal by Alessandro Della Valle. The feeling of resignation from the home side was evident from the fact that their ‘keeper Aldo Simoncini barely even complained about the inability of his defender to make a routine clearance. The second goal, almost inevitably, came just before the half hour mark. It took a piece of brilliant individual skill from Chamberlain, as he weaved his way through the San Marino defence and, after trading passes with Rooney, put it past Simoncini.
He was soon involved in England’s third goal as well, as a delicious chip from Rooney was headed down by him into the path of Defoe for the Tottenham striker to score his first goal of this calendar year. It was just as well that he got one, considering that he had one disallowed just moments before for an inexplicable offside decision. A couple of minutes later, Ashley Young did the same with a fierce strike from outside the box which went in off the underside of the bar, making it 4–0 with 5 minutes still remaining in the first half.
Five minutes, of course, was still plenty of time to score for the visitors and Frank Lampard made it to the list of top ten goal scorers for England by finishing a pull back from Baines to make it 5-0 at the end of the first half.
The second half was business as usual for the Three Lions, who had one eye on their upcoming clash against group leaders Montenegro already and were simply looking to aid their goal difference further in this clash. Ten minutes into the half, Tom Cleverley was the victim of an especially poor challenge, but one which allowed England to add to their tally. This was thanks to an excellent free kick from Wayne Rooney which curled its way into the net and left the ‘keeper no chance.
After a few near chances, Daniel Sturridge managed to get himself on the score sheet as well, thus scoring his first senior goal for the national side. A well weighted cross from Ashley Young left Sturridge with little to do, and he nodded it home for a simple finish, making it England’s seventh of the game. While San Marino’s ‘keeper did pull off a good save from a Baines free kick, there was a goal yet to come in this game.
The eighth and final goal of the game was an all-Tottenham affair as some good work from Walker allowed him to roll the ball to Defoe, who finished with a cheeky back heel finish which added a bit of style to England’s expected victory.
Result: San Marino 0 – 8 England (Alessandro Della Valle (OG) 12’, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 28’, Jermain Defoe 35’, 78’, Ashley Young 39’, Frank Lampard 42’, Wayne Rooney 54’, Daniel Sturridge 70’)