MARINO MAULED BY MERCILESS ENGLAND
England continued their Euro Qualification with a routine thrashing of San Marino, the world’s joint-worst international side. A brilliant Wayne Rooney penalty and a sweet long-ranger from Townsend helped England on their way. Goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini made a string of great saves, but could not prevent the minnows from falling to a five-goal deficit.
The second qualifier saw England take on the worst team in Europe, and the world. ‘The Most Serene Republic of San Marino’ would not prove a hard test, but to find space amongst ten defending bodies is no easy task.
Wayne Rooney and Raheem Sterling had shots stopped before England took the lead in the twenty-fourth minute. A James Milner corner saw goalkeeper Simoncini attempt to come and punch. Sadly for him, he fell over one of his teammates and left centre-back Jagielka to head into the empty net. Just after the forty minute mark, a scruffy Welbeck shot was unbelievably tipped over the bar by the goalkeeper Simoncini, who had to be acrobatic to even reach it. Hearing that other teams have easily dispatched of San Marino is a common occurrence, but England took until the forty-third minute to collect another real chance. Another corner saw a goal-line scramble, before thirty-eight year old loan striker Andy Selva bicycle-kicked Wayne Rooney’s face. The England captain would have a chance to add a second just before the interval. He stepped up to take his penalty, and although the goalkeeper dived the correct way, his penalty was just too good. It went directly into the top-right corner and edged Rooney ever closer to Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record.
The halfway score saw the microstate just two goals behind. But the third goal, under four minutes into the second half was a thing of beauty. The eagerness of substitute Oxlade-Chamberlain to win back the ball paid off as a Sammarinese clearance hit the Arsenal man and landed in his path. Unsurprisingly, he had beaten the defender for pace. As he lured another blue shirt in, he passed low to club teammate Welbeck, who slotted under the keeper and England had set up what could be a second half goal fest. Controversy arrived in the sixty-second minute as Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot was flicked on and into the net by Adam Lallana. The Polish referee initially awarded the goal, but his linesman then called offside. Replays show that Lallana was very much onside, but it did not stand. Unlucky.
There was surely going to be a clear ‘goal of the night’. It turned out to be the fourth. As Oxlade-Chamberlain passed out wide to Townsend, he cut inside onto his left foot. The Tottenham winger, who missed the World Cup through injury, then fired the ball past Simoncini from eighteen yards, beating him at his front post. The final of the night came just thirteen minutes before the end of normal time. A complex, yet brilliant volleyed Jack Wilshere pass found striker Wayne Rooney. His attempted cross brushed off the stomach of centre-back Alessandro Della Valle. It wrong-footed Simoncini, an accountant when not conceding goals, and flew into the net. England had completed the job in hand. Fairly shared out goals; seventy-eight percent of possession; and sixteen corners, England had professionally dispatched of the world’s worst and now Sunday sees a trip to Tallinn, to face Estonia, who were beaten last night by lowly Lithuania.