Sat, October 13, 2012
Sports > Soccer

England beat San Marino 5-0 in World Cup qualifier

2012-10-13 06:35:07 GMT2012-10-13 14:35:07(Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Davide Simoncini (L) of San Marino vies with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain of England during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Group H qualifying match between England and San Marino at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, on Oct. 12, 2012. England won 5-0. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

Gary Cahill (R) of England vies with Ezequiel Rinaldi Danilo of San Marino during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Group H qualifying match between England and San Marino at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, on Oct. 12, 2012. England won 5-0. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

Wayne Rooney (L) of England vies with Michele Cervellini of San Marino during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Group H qualifying match between England and San Marino at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, on Oct. 12, 2012. England won 5-0. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

Wayne Rooney (L) of England celebrates with his teammate Aaron Lennon during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Group H qualifying match between England and San Marino at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, on Oct. 12, 2012. England won 5-0. (Xinhua/Wang Lili)

Wayne Rooney - who became England's fifth-highest goalscorer - and Danny Welbeck both scored twice as England beat San Marino 5-0 in their World Cup qualifying encounter in Group H at Wembley Stadium.

San Marino, officially the worst international side in Europe, held out for 35 minutes before Rooney opened the scoring, with strike partner Welbeck adding another three minutes later to ease away any lingering anxiety.

The Manchester United pair each doubled their tallies in the second half, as Rooney edged ahead of Nat Lofthouse, Sir Tom Finney and Alan Shearer in England's goalscoring charts, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain netting a fifth in the 77th minute to round off the result.

It was a routine, if not spectacular, victory in front of a sell-out crowd for Roy Hodgson’s men ahead of a significantly trickier trip to Poland on Tuesday, and it sees England remain top of Group H on seven points, with a bolstered goal difference.

Rooney captained England with Steven Gerrard suspended, John Terry now retired from international football, and Frank Lampard having missed out with a knee injury, and the United forward scored his first goals of the season - his 30th and 31st strikes for his country.

Ashley Cole had been made available for selection despite the left-back being subject to FA disciplinary action for a rogue tweet earlier in the week, but he was confined to the bench with Leighton Baines handed a start.

The visitors' goalkeeper, Aldo Simoncini, an accountant by trade, made an ignominious impact early on with a reckless and dangerous challenge on Theo Walcott, whose first start under Roy Hodgson ended abruptly in the ninth minute as Aaron Lennon was introduced. The Arsenal winger had to be taken to hospital after the incident, and England will await the results of a scan in anticipation of the trip to Warsaw.

San Marino, who have recorded 54 straight losses and have scored just one goal in four years, made the occasional fleeting foray into the England half, but for the most part the visitors were boxed in with the onus on the hosts to convert their pressure into goals.

Rooney inexplicably headed wide from close range on the half-hour mark, and Michael Carrick unleashed a piledriver from the edge of the San Marino penalty area against the crossbar with Welbeck putting the rebound against the post from just six yards out.

The last time San Marino made it to half-time without conceding a goal was seven years ago, and the home fans were beginning to get impatient before finally the breakthrough came as Welbeck was rashly hauled down by Simoncini to win a penalty.

Rooney drove the spot kick into the top corner to net his 30th international goal, and the England camp were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Three minutes later, Welbeck got on the scoresheet with a cute finish at the near post – a near replica of his backheel against Sweden at Euro 2012 – after Lennon had raced to the right byline and cut the ball back for him.

That was the extent of the damage in the first half, and the second began equally slowly as the hosts kept possession without managing to create any clear-cut opportunities to build upon their tally.

Carrick forced his way through after a slick interchange with Welbeck on the edge of the box just before the hour mark, but his shot lacked power as Simoncini was able to make a decent save to his right.

It was a frustrating start to the second half as England looked flat, and San Marino even had their first meaningful attack as Alex Gasperoni raced clear with Jagielka alongside him, and drove a shot wide of Hart's near post to prompt a huge ovation from the Wembley crowd.

Finally, Rooney added a second with a crisp finish from the edge of the box, and he picked out the far corner of the net with a powerful strike to leave Simoncini with no chance at all.

Rooney’s second of the night – and of the season – saw him become England's fifth highest goalscorer of all time, and Welbeck again followed his lead with a second of his own two minutes after.

Cleverley produced a barnstorming run down the right before cutting the ball back perfectly for his United team-mate, who was afforded a simple finish from close range to double his tally for the evening.

Rooney made way to a standing ovation after the fourth goal, with the midweek clash with Poland no doubt in mind, as Andy Carroll came on and Hart was made captain for the final 20 minutes.

Oxlade-Chamberlain added a fifth for England as he produced a precise right-footed finish to pick out the top corner to get on the scoresheet following a corner from Baines, and suddenly Hodgson cut a satisfied figure.

England have now won 13 of their last 15 World Cup qualifying matches after their convincing victory, but it will be a much sterner test which awaits Hodgson’s side as they take on Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Wayne Rooney – England: The 26-year-old forward netted his 30th and 31st international goals to become England’s fifth highest goalscorer of all time. The skipper was instrumental in England taking control of the match and racking up the opening four goals in a fine all-round display.

ENGLAND: Hart 6, Walker 4, Jagielka 6, Cahill 5, Baines 6, Carrick 6, Cleverley – 7, Walcott 6, Rooney 8, Oxlade-Chamberlain 7, Welbeck 7. SUBS: Lennon 5, Shelvey 6, Carroll 5.

SAN MARINO: A Simoncini 5, Vitaioli 5, Palazzi 6, Brolli 5, D Simoncini 5, Della Valle 4, Cibelli 5, Coppini 4, Cervellini 5, Danilo 5, Gasperoni 5. SUBS: Buscarini 5, Selva 5, Bacciocchi 5.

(Agencies)

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