LONDON: England took another step towards qualification for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil following a comfortable 5-0 victory over San Marino writes CHRISTIAN RADNEDGE.
Wembley Stadium was a sell-out but England fans had to wait half an hour before seeing the first goal against the team ranked as joint worst in the world by FIFA. Captain for the night Wayne Rooney converted from the spot after Danny Welbeck had been brought down.
The only other goal in the first half came from Welbeck himself after being played in by Aaron Lennon who had replaced Theo Walcott in the ninth minute following a nasty collision with San Marino keeper Aldo Simoncini.
Rooney and Welbeck both added to their tallies in the second half. Rooney fired in from outside the box while Welbeck tapped in from close range. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wrapped up the rout for the home side with his first senior goal for England.
Roy Hodgson’s side now sit at the top of Group H after rivals Ukraine were held to a draw in Moldova.
After the match manager Hodgson said he was very happy with the way his team approached the game and they were “good value for the five goals”.
However he dismissed the suggestion that San Marino should not be allowed to compete at this level – especially given the kind of tackle from their goalkeeper in the ninth minute that led Theo Walcott to leave the field injured and eventually go to hospital.
“I don’t think I want to get involved in that debate,” he said. “It’s up to FIFA and UEFA to decide who is allowed in their competitions. San Marino have been involved for years now – they will argue that they play with their resources.
“I don’t think we can accuse them of playing a dirty game of football tonight; not too many vicious fouls, there was one. But I don’t want to go so far as to wish they shouldn’t be in the competition.”
Despite the heavy challenge from the goalkeeper, San Marino’s manager Giampaolo Mazza was happy with his team’s effort and fair play.
He said “Despite the result I was happy for the way we played, it was a great game one of best in qualifying round so far. The lads did really well tonight, they only got two bookings.
“I think we played with a lot of fair play and everyone in the stadium could see that.”
England go on to play Poland away on Tuesday where Hodgson will welcome back regular captain Steven Gerrard as well as putting to use players who did not feature tonight he added.
= = = =