England 5 (Rooney 35’ (pen), 69’; Welbeck 38’, 71’; Oxlade-Chamberlain 77’) – 0 San Marino
Wayne Rooney led from the front tonight scoring a brace of goals as England hit five past minnows San Marino on Friday night, the goals make him the fifth highest scorer in England colours . While Roy Hodgson was declared himself happy with the performance, fans will have felt that England could have won by an even bigger margin and were largely uninspiring in victory.
Rooney, captain in Steven Gerard’s absence, took his tally to 31 international goals as England eventually overcame a plucky San Marino side to secure to secure their World Cup qualifying victory. The Manchester United striker broke the deadlock with a 34th-minute penalty and Old Trafford team-mate Danny Welbeck quickly added a second as Roy Hodgson’s side finally made their vast superiority count against the side ranked joint 207th in the world.
After 70 minutes, Welbeck showed his knack for an instinctive finish as he scored England’s fourth goal before Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain got his first goal for his country as San Marino understandably faded after a constant rearguard action. As expected, England started well and kept the San Marino goalkeeper, Aldo Simoncini, busy. Simoncini did not get a chance to settle into the match as he showed good athleticism to turn Oxlade-Chamberlain’s rising shot over the bar. It was the start of an eventful half for the keeper, he was also responsible for Theo Walcott’s early departure after he flattened the Arsenal winger in a heavy challenge.
England were held complete domination, with keeper Joe Hart’s rare touches, little more than passes out to his defenders, greeted by ironic cheers from the sell-out Wembley crowd. England doubled their lead three minutes after Rooney’s opener when Welbeck provided a skilful finish, turning in substitute Aaron Lennon’s cross with a backheel beyond Simoncini. The second half began as the first half had finished, Carrick saw a shot blocked by Simoncini and Gary Cahill held his head in anguish after miskicking right in front of goal.
Leighton Baines joined in on the goalmouth action but saw his curling free-kick brush the sidenetting before San Marino broke clear and actually threatened a goal just after the hour. Ezequiel Rinaldi Danilo was the man with the golden chance but his nerves failed and excitement got the better of him as he lashed wildly off target. England were comfortable and Hodgson decided to give Liverpool midfielder, Jonjo Shelvey his debut as he replaced Carrick. Minutes later Rooney scored the goal that saw him rise to fifth in the all time England goalscorers list. San Marino were struggling and fading fast and it was no surprise when, amongst a host of England bodies in the box, Oxlade-Chamberlain produced a moment of composure to beat the besieged Simoncini to round off the scoring.
Player of the Match – Wayne Rooney
All eyes were on the Manchester Utd striker as he accepted the captain’s armband for a second time. Rooney had insisted that England would see a more mature and rounded character. He did not let the England faithful down as he ensured there would be no embarrassing slip ups against a San Marino side ranked 207th in FIFA’s world rankings list, when he scored after 35 minutes.
Rooney then edged ahead of England legends like Nat Lofthouse, Sir Tom Finney and Alan Shearer in England’s goalscoring charts with his second goal after 70 minutes as they improved what could be the vital factor of goal differing in the closing stages. Rooney’s second was all class as he curled a precise right-foot finish into the bottom corner of the net. He has done his chances of becoming a future full time England captain no harm with a solid performance.
England will be happy to secure a win and boost their goal ratio in what may well turn out to be a tight group. Fans may have felt that at home, against a team that has now conceded 136 goals since they last scored away from home against Liechtenstein in 2003 and is arguably the worst team in the world, England really should have done better. Hodgson may have had one eye on Wednesday but San Marino recently conceded six goals against Montenegro and four against Moldova earlier this year.
What They Said
Roy Hodgson: “It was attack versus defence, it’s never easy when 10 players are parked in the penalty area but I was very pleased with the way we kept playing our football. We played it from the first minute to the very last. They didn’t have one strike at goal, in fact the crowd were cheering every time the goalkeeper [Joe Hart] touched the ball – I think it was four times. It was a good result for us with Moldova drawing with Ukraine, so it’s been a very satisfying weeks work.”