Sport Soccer

Wednesday 19 June 2019

England cruise to win against San Marino minnows

San Marino 0-8 England

Wayne Rooney, Leighton Baines and Jermain Defoe of England celebrate after San Marino scored an own goal. Photo: Reuters
Wayne Rooney, Leighton Baines and Jermain Defoe of England celebrate after San Marino scored an own goal. Photo: Reuters

Simon Stone

ENGLAND'S travelling army delivered their own damning verdict on Rio Ferdinand as Roy Hodgson's men recorded their biggest win since 1987.

Before they mocked San Marino with taunts of "are you Scotland in disguise", they abused the man who opted not to play in this mismatch and commentate on it instead.


As Jermain Defoe scored twice to head a lengthy list of scorers that also included Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney and substitute Daniel Sturridge, who netted his first international goal, Ferdinand bore the brunt of supporter ire.


Should he ever appear for his country again, the 34-year-old can be certain of a hostile welcome, and there is no doubt Roy Hodgson has ended on the positive side of the ledger.


Indeed, until Montenegro managed a goal in Chisinau, 11 minutes from the end of their meeting with Moldova, it looked like being one of the best days Hodgson has had since replacing Fabio Capello last May.


But Mirko Vucinic's effort means England remain two points behind Montenegro as they set off for Tuesday's World Cup assignment in Podgorica, although with 20 goals from their five games so far, Hodgson's men are unquestionably the most entertaining team in Group H.


Providing there was a volume feed in Al Jazeera's Doha base, Ferdinand would have heard what the England fans felt about his absence.


Towards the back end of the first half, with victory already assured and the only concerns getting through the game safely and attacking the scoring charts, those supporters who had made the journey to the world's worst footballing nation turned their attentions to Ferdinand.


Their songs were numerous. But they all shared the same theme - you've let us down and we would prefer never to see you again.


There is little doubt the "intricate pre-planned" training regime with which Ferdinand excused himself is genuine.


It is hard to see what damage he could have done tonight though, unless he failed to warm-up properly on a chilly evening.


Although Joe Hart was actually the first goalkeeper to touch the ball, neither Chris Smalling nor Joleon Lescott were extended in central defence, where their task seemed simply to ferry the ball towards a wide area, or prod Lampard or Tom Cleverley into a forward burst from midfield.


Little meaningful analysis can be gained from one-sided occasions such as these.


However, it was undeniable England approached their task with a clarity of purpose far advanced from the reverse fixture at Wembley.


There was almost too much movement at times, so eager were the white shirts to exploit lack of concentration in home ranks.


The pace of Young and Oxlade-Chamberlain on the wings was used in short bursts, Defoe and Rooney dropped deep to present the home defence with a different problem to solve and after San Marino had been opened up once, goals arrived at regular intervals.


England did not require the assistance provided by Alessandro Della Valle, but they accepted it anyway as the defender turned Leighton Baines' 12th-minute cross into his own net, with Rooney offering only token pressure.


Rooney had a more significant involvement in England's second, providing the return pass for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who belted home as the home defence opened up.


The Arsenal winger only started due to the injury club colleague Theo Walcott sustained in training last night.


But he was clearly eager to make the most of his opportunity, as was Defoe, who had unluckily seen one close-range effort ruled out for offside before he turned home another a couple of minutes later.


Young blasted home number four off the underside of the bar before Lampard, made skipper in the absence of rested Steven Gerrard, netted his 28th international goal, taking him into the all-time top 10.


It completed England's heaviest first-half goals haul since they put five past Luxembourg in 1999.


And the most surprising thing was Rooney not getting any of them.


That situation lasted only eight minutes of the second period as the Manchester United man netted his 34th international goal with a magnificent curling free-kick.


Sturridge replaced Rooney almost immediately afterwards. And after wasting a golden chance to score his first international goal within seconds of his arrival, the Liverpool striker finally managed it when he turned home Young's far-post cross 20 minutes from time.


Defoe rounded off the rout, meaning England did not reach double figures and were forced to settle for a repeat of the score by which they demolished Turkey at Wembley 26 years ago.

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