ENGLAND 5, SAN MARINO 0
Wayne Rooney continues to inch ever closer to England’s goal scoring record after finding the net in their Euro qualifier victory against San Marino at Wembley.
The Manchester United striker moved to within three goals of legend Jimmy Greaves who is third on the all-time list.
Rooney’s penalty was his 42nd international goal as Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 is also firmly in his sights.
But it was a night when Rooney could easily have surpassed 44-goal Greaves with more clinical finishing as he wasted five other clear-cut chances while also seeing another effort debited as an own goal following a sizeable deflection.
In the end England recorded a relatively modest victory against whipping boys San Marino who are the lowest ranked UEFA country and 208th in the world through efforts from Phil Jagielka, Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Andros Townsend along with an own goal.
And having scored 8, 5, 7 and 6 goals against San Marino in their four previous meetings, it was a slightly underwhelming display seeing their opponents only had two full-time players in their side.
They had also never won a competitive fixture while Germany once put 13 goals past them which remains a record score for a Euro qualifier.
Manager Roy Hodgson was delighted to make it two wins out of two at the start of the qualification campaign.
He said: “I am very pleased, pleased to have won, pleased we got the job done and pleased with the crowd for their mood and buoyancy to get satisfaction from the night.
“We knew it would be difficult to break them down in the first half if we didn’t get an early goal.
“In the second half there was a better tempo, but when it was 2-0 and then we made it 3-0 early in the second half, it is harder for them (San Marino) to get going.
“It was important we got the job done so we can concentrate on Estonia as we have little preparation.”
Hodgson added that there are no easy games at international football and it is important to stop judging countries because of their population size in terms of correlating that to footballing success pointing out San Marino were a far better team than when they met last year.
England handed a first full cap to Arsenal’s Callum Chambers, one of four changes from the side which won in Switzerland.
Jagielka, Kieran Gibbs and James Milner were all handed starts as the players to lose out were Leighton Baines, John Stones, Phil Jones and Fabien Delph.
San Marino held out for almost 24 minutes before falling behind to a header from Jagielka following Milner’s corner as visiting claims of a foul on keeper Aldo Simoncini were waved away, replays suggesting he was tripped by one of his team mates.
Until that point it had been frustrating for England who had carved out five goal attempts without seriously threatening to score.
The breakthrough wasn’t the prelude to an avalanche of goals as San Marino defended resolutely until England doubled their lead two minutes before the break through a Rooney penalty. It was awarded following a dangerously high clearance by Andy Selva under pressure from Rooney for which he was booked.
England, who brought on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adam Lallana at the break for Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling, soon added a third goal.
The lively Oxlade-Chamberlain, who produced a highly impressive display, cut the ball back for Welbeck to score with a near-post shot.
Oxlade-Chamberlain twice went close before scoring England’s fourth goal before finding the net with a terrific low shot from 30 yards only for the effort to be ruled out after the referee consulted his assistant.
The fourth goal was not long coming as substitute Townsend cut in from the right before unleashing an unstoppable shot.
And it soon became 5-0 when Rooney’s cross was deflected in off the chest of Alessandro Della Valle so it is highly unlikely it will be credited to the England man.