QUALIFIED: England put ten past San Marino to seal World Cup place
Credit: PA Nick Potts
England strolled to 2022 World Cup qualification as they thrashed lowly San Marino 10-0, with Harry Kane’s quest to become the nation’s all-time leading goalscorer taking shape as he hit four in the Group I finale.
Gareth Southgate said he would treat San Marino – the team ranked bottom of the FIFA rankings – with the same respect as any other opposition and he was true to his word as the visitors ran roughshod over a stunned home side.
Harry Maguire, an own goal from Filippo Fabbri, Emile Smith Rowe on his full debut, a first goal for Tyrone Mings, one off the bench for Tammy Abraham and a Bukayo Saka header would wrap up the win at a canter for the beaten Euro 2020 finalists.
Not since beating the USA 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 – as the Three Lions cruised to Qatar.
He is now just five shy of Wayne Rooney’s all-time record, having started for the first time against either San Marino or Andorra in this successful qualifying campaign.
It was his namesake, Maguire, who opened the scoring with a fifth-minute header as he too broke a record, becoming England’s highest-scoring centre-back of all time with his seventh international goal.
The second was a fortunate own goal as Saka’s shot took two deflections, eventually flashing past the wrong-footed Elia Benedettini off defender Fabbri.
A Kane penalty saw him grab his first of four goals in a 15-minute spell, converting after a lengthy VAR check for handball against Dante Rossi.
His 14th of the year came shortly after, scuffing an Smith Rowe cross past Benedettini, before Aaron Ramsdale – making his debut in the England goal – was at least able to show his ability, having to get down low to push a Nicola Nanni shot behind.
A second successive first-half hat-trick was completed from the penalty spot after Kane’s own header struck the arm of Alessandro D’Addario and he made no mistake from 12 yards.
His fourth was the pick of the bunch, the Tottenham striker beating two men inside the box and finishing into the corner to move level with Lineker.
Kane would emerge for the second half as Southgate handed a debut to Conor Gallagher, with Abraham and Ben Chilwell also coming off the bench.
Abraham would miss a fine chance to extend the lead before Smith Rowe toasted his first England start with his maiden senior goal.
The Arsenal man has hit five in eight for the Gunners and continued that fine run, turning home after a smart flick from Abraham.
Kane would come off on the hour mark, a fine outing for the man now just one goal away from Sir Bobby Charlton’s 49 for England.
If San Marino’s job was already tough enough, they were reduced to 10 men as Rossi was shown a second yellow card for tripping Gallagher.
Mings would head home the resulting free-kick for his first England goal and Jude Bellingham thought he had opened his account, too, only for his thunderous effort to be chalked off by VAR due to a foul in the build-up.
On the eve of the game, San Marino head coach Franco Varrella had said a good tackle or winning a one-v-one could have been classed as a “win” for his side – but in truth they were nowhere near it.
Abraham made it nine, finishing clinically from a Trent Alexander-Arnold pass and double figures were up as Saka then got onto the end of a cross from the Liverpool man to nod in.
Roma striker Abraham was unlucky to have a second ruled out but England secured their spot at the World Cup in style.
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