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By Paul Lagan, at Wembley
Friday, October 12, 2012
World Cup Qualifying: England 5 San Marino 0
Job done, but really, San Marino should have been obliterated by England tonight.
A 5-0 scoreline looks acceptable by modern international standards but this was not the rout it should have truly been.
A brace of goals from strikers Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck will be welcome on personal levels and an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain culet with 13 minutes remaining sealed England’s first win at home in this World Cup Qualifier.
San Marino simply were hopeless and they know they are.
So they packed their defence and prayed of e best England were somewhat plodding but effective and Oxlade-ChamberlIn hit a vicious 25-yarder on three minutes which stung the fingertips of San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Junior Simoncini.
The stopper was in action again a minute later, this time clearing the ball on the edge of his penalty area but thumping in-running Theo Walcott in the process.
The Arsenal wide man, who must have been hoping for a hat-trick of goals at least, failed to recover sufficiently and was replaced by north London rival Spurs’ Aaron Lennon.
Joe Hart received ironic cheers from the England faithful when he touched the ball for the first time on 15 minutes - a delicate back pass from Phil Jagielka.
The visitors, officially the worst international, rode their luck several times before the half hour, with Aldo Simoncini, in goal alert to the shortcomings of his defence.
Tom Cleverley was unfortunate to see his strike, from inside the area rebound off the shins of centre-back Brolli as England forced the pace.
Wayne Rooney, captain for the night missed a sitter, when a deep Cleverley cross was met on the head b the Manchester United striker but he somehow went wide of goal.
Michael Carrick and Danny Welbeck were next in the list to try their luck, Carrick rattled the cross bar and Welbeck’s follow-up left footer ricocheted off the upright.
But the breakthrough finally came on 34 minutes and it wasn’t an inventive piece of play but from the right boot of Rooney who smashed home a penalty after Simoncini upended Welbeck.
Three minutes later and it was two - nil.
San Marino were carved open by the pace of Lennon, whose byline cross was back heeled past Simoncini from eight yards out.
Simoncini salvaged some personal pride by producing a fine diving save from a Rooney edge-of-the area curler four minutes before half-time.
As expected, the second half started in similar fashion to the first, with England in possession and pushing forward.
Carrick was the recipient of the first chance on 53 minutes after excellent set-up play. but the midfielder found Simoncini back to his defiant best.
Chelsea’s Gary Cahill was next up to the audition, but failed miserably, miss-timing a volley and slicing the ball into the gleeful palms of the goalkeeper instead.
Cahill fluffed his lines again on 60 minutes, this time failing to connect successfully from a crisp alright on Baines corner.
The Everton left-back tried his luck with a 20-yard left-footed free-kick a couple of minutes later - the ball only troubled the side-netting.
At last, on 65 minutes, Ezequiel Rinaldi Danilo, the San Marino striker found himself with space in the England half. With the potential to suffer the proverbial nosebleed, the forward raced clear. Puffing by the time he got close to England’s penalty area, he left fly with his left boot, but the ball smashed into the advertising hoarding.
This was the visitors’ first foray into England territory.
No sooner had Jonjo Shelvey replaced Carrick than the Liverpool midfielder arrowed a cross-field pass to Baines on 69 minutes. The ball was nodded back into the central area, just on the edge of the San Marino penalty area, and up popped Rooney to expertly curl a right footer past Simoncini.
Welbeck notched his second of the night and England’s fourth three minutes later, tucking home sweetly from close range.
Andy Carroll entered the fray for Rooney seconds later, with Hart taking the captain’s armband.
On 77 minutes, Arsenal’s winger Oxlade-Chamberlain, clipped home the fifth, a delicate curler from 12 yards out, after creative set- up play by Cleverley, as England took full advantage of the tiring San Marino players.
Shelvey almost marked his debut with a goal, but Simoncini smothered the shot.
The crowd petered out and b the time the final whistle blew the stadium was half empty. They had seen enough and so had the players.
Next up foe the Three Lions, a somewhat more difficult task of overcoming Poland away on Tuesday in the second of these double-header qualifiers.
Teams: England, Hart, Walker, Baines, Carrick, Jagielka, Cahill, Walcott, Cleverley,Welbeck, Rooney, Oxlade-Chamberlain Sub, Cole, Ruddy, Lescott, Shawcross, Milner, Shelvey, Johnson, Lennon, Carroll, Defoe, Forster.
San Marino: Aldo Junior Simoncini, Vitaioli, Palazzi, Brolli, Davide Simoncini, Della Valle, Cibelli, Coppini, Cervellini, Danilo, Gasperoni, Subs, Valentini, Bacciocchi, Buscarini, Marani, Mazza, Selva, Vannucci, Vitaioi
Referee Gediminas Mazeika, Lithuania