SERRAVALLE —- England secured their slot in the World Cup finals in Qatar next November by demolishing San Marino 10-0. Harry Kane scored four with two penalties and the others came from Harry Maguire, Filippo Fabbri (own goal), Emile Smith Rowe, Tyrone Mings, Tammy Abraham and Bukayo Saka.
Manager Gareth Southgate’s men were always expected to beat the world’s worst national team – ranked 210 by world federation FIFA – but the task still had to be accomplished and nothing in football is ever securely predictable. Poland, the runner-up in European Group I, enter the playoffs.
However, once Harry Maguire had opened the scoring in the eighth minute there was no further doubt that England were on the way. The task was further simplified when San Marino defender Dante Rossi was sent off in the 68th minute with his team seven goals down.
Captain Kane subsequently became one of only four England players ever to score hat-tricks in successive matches and the first since 1927.
Kane said: “We’re delighted with the win and the goals and let’s keep them coming. Whoever we’re playing we want to put in the best performance for the fans and I think we did that tonight.
“I said at the start of the week i want to play every minute of every game and it’s been a good plan to have a ruthless mentality and the bit between our teeth. It’s never easy qualifying so we’ll enjoy this and look forward to a big year next year.
“There was a lot of emotion during the summer but to put in the performances away, Hungary especially, these are the wins that get you through this group. Great mentality for the team. It’s been a long year but we’ve enjoyed every moment.”
Not since beating the United States in 1964 had England reached double figures as they kept their foot on the accelerator until the very end of this most one-sided of encounters.
Kane would hit all four of his goals in the first half, drawing him level with Gary Lineker’s 48 England goals and moving onto 16 for the calendar year – a record in itself. He is five shy of Wayne Rooney’s all-time record.
Manager Southgate, who is now expected to agree a contract through to the next Euro finals, said: “”The qualification was earned away in Budapest, Warsaw and Albania. I have to credit all our players and staff for a very good year.
“We cannot do anything about the level of opposition but the mentality and the way they applied themselves was terrific.”
As for Kane’s latest goal haul, Southgate said: “If we left him on another half an hour, we would have had Wayne Rooney’s family on the phone. He is a phenomenal goalscorer, we wanted to give him the chance tonight and he took it well.”