Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck both netted twice as England eased past San Marino
Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck netted a brace apiece as England saw off minnows San Marino 5-0 at Wembley.
Last Updated: 13/10/12 12:13pm
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain added the Three Lions' fifth with his first senior goal as the hosts claimed a routine win over the team ranked joint lowest in the international rankings by FIFA.
Roy Hodgson's men were as dominant as the scoreline suggests but took a while to hit their stride after a slow start that saw Theo Walcott go off injured after just 10 minutes following a rash challenge by goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini, with Aaron Lennon coming off the bench.
England were completely in control but failed to find the back of the net until the 35-minute mark, when Welbeck drew another foul from Simoncini in the box and Manchester United team-mate Rooney coolly converted from the penalty spot.
Welbeck doubled the scoreline with a cheeky backheel from a Lennon cross just three minutes later to wrap-up the hosts' first-half scoring.
Rooney moved fifth in England's all-time scoring rankings when he netted his 31st goal for his country to make it 3-0 after the break, driving home from the edge of the box.
And the Three Lions' fourth goal of the night followed a familiar pattern as Welbeck struck again, latching onto a Tom Cleverley cross just two minutes later.
It was Gunners youngster Oxlade-Chamberlain that finished things off with an impressive finish, prodding home a ball in from the lively Leighton Baines.
The result took England three points clear at the top of Group H and in good heart for Tuesday's crucial trip to Poland, even though Walcott must be rated as extremely doubtful after being forced off inside the opening five minutes.
Although plenty of the Club Wembley executives had given the game a miss, the cheap seats were more or less full, and they knew exactly what to expect.
Wave after wave of England attacks. The world's joint-worst side having a gameplan no more elaborate than desperate defence. On the rare occasions Joe Hart touched the ball, it was greeted with raucous cheers.
San Marino had to be beaten though. And it took England half an hour to work out how.
The visitors had a lucky escape in the opening minutes. Had Aldo Simoncini's airborne challenge on Theo Walcott been executed by anyone other than a goalkeeper, it is difficult to imagine he would have stayed on the pitch - reckless and dangerous, it sent Walcott cartwheeling.
On the touchline, Roy Hodgson was furious. He was still seething when it was confirmed Walcott's evening was over and Aaron Lennon was sent on in his place.
It merely delayed the procession. Rooney had already come close on a couple of occasions when Oxlade-Chamberlain brought an excellent save out of Simoncini from the edge of the area.
Rooney then sent a far-post header from Tom Cleverley's cross narrowly wide before Michael Carrick smashed a shot against the bar, which Welbeck should have turned home but somehow shovelled against a post.
It was difficult to be too critical of England given the limitations of their opponents provided so little space to operate in.
But their passing wasn't as crisp as it needed to be in order to open San Marino up and when the opener came, it was something of a surprise as Welbeck charged into the box and was upended by Simoncini.
Rooney had no hesitation in accepting even more responsibility and duly drove home the spot-kick.
Within three minutes, England had another.
When Welbeck acrobatically turned home the winner against Sweden during Euro 2012, some questioned whether he meant it.
The impudent manner in which the 21-year-old turned home Lennon's cross, from a very similar position, left no room for debate.
Rooney was denied by a brilliant Simoncini save before the break, then Carrick's shot was deflected away from danger immediately after it.
From the corner, Gary Cahill really should have scored but when Leighton Baines, who had kept his place at the expense of Ashley Cole, picked him out at the far post, the Chelsea man shinned it rather than catch the ball on the volley as he intended.
Cahill then sent a header wide before Baines was inches away from curling home a 25-yard free-kick.
Hodgson decided to inject a bit more life into his midfield by introducing Jonjo Shelvey for his debut.
The Liverpool man had only been called up on Monday, and was actually suspended from England Under-21's play-off win over Serbia earlier today.
FIFA's eligibility rules meant he could play for the seniors though and the 20-year-old's introduction was immediately followed by another Rooney-Welbeck one-two.
Lennon was about to get a free-kick when Rooney fired home from the edge of the area, a landmark goal which means he has only four more men to overtake and become England's greatest marksman.
Yet again, Welbeck followed up almost instantly. Once more at the near post, this time Cleverley providing the cross which he prodded home from close range.
Hodgson had seen enough to get Rooney off in readiness for Tuesday's more testing assignment with Poland in Warsaw.It meant he was only watching when Oxlade-Chamberlain made his own little bit of history 14 minutes from time, tucking himself behind Tommy Lawton, Michael Owen, and England's youngest goalscorer of all, Rooney.
|England||Team Statistics||San Marino|
|2||1st Half Goals||0|
|16||Shots on Target||0|
|11||Shots off Target||1|
|86.5||1st Half Poss.||13.5|
|86.6||2nd Half Poss.||13.4|