European Qualifiers: Wayne Rooney scores as England beat San Marino 5-0 at Wembley
By Peter Fraser - @PeteFraser_
Last Updated: 11/10/14 10:45am
Wayne Rooney moved closer to becoming England's all-time record goalscorer in a 5-0 win over minnows San Marino in the European Qualifiers.
It was not the complete goal-fest many expected for Roy Hodgson’s team against an opponent ranked the lowest in the world by FIFA but it maintained the Three Lions’ position at the top of Group E.
And Rooney, although he could have had more, was an architect as his first-half penalty added to England’s goal tally, while also taking him to within seven goals of Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time individual record of 49, before he later contributed to Alessandro Della Valle’s own goal at Wembley on Thursday night.
Phil Jagielka, Welbeck and substitute Andros Townsend were also on target in a game in which England made hard work of their lowly opposition, however, they can now look forward to Sunday’s game away to Estonia.
All the pre-match debate had centred on that expected, easy England win and they almost had the early goal they wanted but San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini punched away Rooney’s indirect free-kick before Welbeck’s shot deflected wide off team-mate Jagielka.
England were not free flowing, however, they continued to dominate possession and, in the 24th minute, Jagielka opened the scoring with a header from James Milner’s corner after Simoncini had tripped over compatriot Luca Tosi.
Wembley expected the floodgates to open after breaking the deadlock but San Marino - who had conceded 296 goals in qualifiers since a 1-1 draw against Latvia in 2001, which represented the only competitive game in their history in which they avoided defeat - were frustrating their hosts.
Hodgson, though, was forcefully clapping his hands in celebration before half-time when Rooney made it 2-0 with a confident, 43rd-minute penalty after the captain had been brought down in the area to take him closer to Charlton’s England record.
England made two changes at half-time, with Adam Lallana coming on for club-mate Raheem Sterling while another Liverpool player, Jordan Henderson, went off to be replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
And the substitutions made an impact as Welbeck scored England’s third from close range after meeting a low cross from his Arsenal team-mate, Chamberlain, in the 49th minute.
Lallana thought he had England’s fourth shortly after the hour when he deflected Chamberlain’s shot into the back of the net, only to see the effort disallowed by an offside flag which replays suggested was incorrect.
Townsend was brought on for Welbeck in the 66th minute and the Tottenham Hotspur winger did put England 4-0 in front just six minutes after entering the game with a firmly-struck, low shot from distance.
San Marino looked like they were tiring as England took greater control, with Jack Wilshere especially influential, and fatigue may well have played a part in Della Valle’s 77th-minute own goal as the defender deflected Rooney’s strike to send it looping over the head of Simoncini.