England’s World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign started with a predictably routine stroll to victory against San Marino at Wembley.
The side rooted to the bottom of the Fifa world rankings at 210 were never going to be anything other than an easy target for England, even with captain Harry Kane starting on the bench, and so it proved in this one-sided qualifier behind closed doors.
England were encamped in San Marino territory for the entire game and the only disappointment for manager Gareth Southgate will be the fact their finishing was very poor.
They should have inflicted a much heavier loss on their besieged opponents, the highlight being a late goal for Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins on debut after he came on as a substitute.
James Ward-Prowse’s first goal for England, swept in from Ben Chilwell’s low cross, gave them the lead after 14 minutes before Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin doubled the advantage seven minutes later with a header from a fine Reece James delivery.
Raheem Sterling, who looked desperate to score from the start, added the third before half-time when his shot was deflected in at the near post and Calvert-Lewin scored his second with a simple finish, laid on by Jesse Lingard, eight minutes after the break.
Southgate’s side lost rhythm after four interval substitutions but Watkins got in on the act with a crisp low finish to mark his first cap with a goal seven minutes from time after he came on for two-goal Calvert-Lewin.
One San Marino player to emerge with huge credit was goalkeeper Elia Benedettini, who made a string of superb saves from Chilwell, Mason Mount, Lingard and Ward-Prowse as England made the expected winning start to their World Cup qualifying campaign.
More to follow.
- 2JamesSubstituted forTrippierat 45′minutes
- 5StonesSubstituted forMingsat 45′minutesBooked at 90mins
- 11MountSubstituted forBellinghamat 45′minutes
- 9Calvert-LewinSubstituted forWatkinsat 63′minutes
- 10SterlingSubstituted forFodenat 45′minutes
- 13GrandoniSubstituted forCeccaroliat 55′minutes
- 20HirschSubstituted forMularoniat 55′minutes
- 8GolinucciSubstituted forBattistiniat 71′minutes
- 21LunadeiSubstituted forGiardiat 79′minutes
- 9BerardiSubstituted forD’Addarioat 79′minutes
- Kirill Levnikov
Match ends, England 5, San Marino 0.
Second Half ends, England 5, San Marino 0.
Tyrone Mings (England) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Tyrone Mings (England).
Nicola Nanni (San Marino) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Offside, England. Kieran Trippier tries a through ball, but James Ward-Prowse is caught offside.
Corner, England. Conceded by Luca Ceccaroli.
Attempt missed. Cristian Brolli (San Marino) right footed shot from more than 40 yards on the right wing misses to the right.
Foul by Ollie Watkins (England).
Dante Carlos Rossi (San Marino) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Goal! England 5, San Marino 0. Ollie Watkins (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Phil Foden.
Attempt missed. Jude Bellingham (England) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by James Ward-Prowse with a cross.
Substitution, San Marino. Alessandro D’Addario replaces Filippo Berardi.
Substitution, San Marino. Mattia Giardi replaces Lorenzo Lunadei.
Attempt saved. Jesse Lingard (England) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Foul by Jesse Lingard (England).
Luca Ceccaroli (San Marino) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt missed. Jude Bellingham (England) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Ollie Watkins with a cross.
Attempt saved. James Ward-Prowse (England) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.
Substitution, San Marino. Michael Battistini replaces Enrico Golinucci.