England have booked their place at Euro 2016 thanks to a comfortable 6-0 win against San Marino. Wayne Rooney joined Bobby Charlton on 49 England goals, whilst there was also a brace from Theo Walcott as well as goals from Ross Barkley and Harry Kane. This will be a relief for Roy Hodgson, as this squad in particular has been described by many as England’s worst ever. Despite this, England have qualified with three games remaining, a feat that no England team has previously achieved.
England started brightly, with Jonjo Shelvey demanding plenty of the ball and dictating play. Only eleven minutes had been played when they broke through, albeit in controversial circumstances. San Marino players were left bewildered after the referee awarded England a penalty, despite John Stones handling from the free kick. However, both Stones and Phil Jagielka appeared to have been held back, so the hosts could have no complaints. Captain Wayne Rooney stepped up, and sent the keeper the wrong way to become England’s joint top goal-scorer.
England went two up through an own goal, as Luke Shaw delivered an inviting cross, which Brolli could only glance past his own keeper. San Marino’s keeper Simoncini managed to keep the score at 2-0 going in to the break, first denying Rooney his second, and then producing a fantastic save just before half time, diverting the ball over when Oxlade-Chamberlain looked certain to score from six yards.
It didn’t take long after the break for England to extend their lead, just fourteen seconds in fact. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain reached the byline before delivering a cross straight to an unmarked Ross Barkley, who headed home his first England goal from six yards. It would not be a record breaking evening though, as Rooney was brought off with half an hour remaing. After the game, Hodgson confirmed that it was just a precaution given the state of the pitch, but the striker would have been confident of adding to his early strike.
The game was well and truly sealed as England added three more goals in just over ten minutes. Theo Walcott, less than a minute after coming on, met a driven cross from Fabian Delph to convert at the far post. Harry Kane produced a delicious finish to open his account for the season, breaking the offside trap to latch on to Shelvey’s ball through and chip over the onrushing keeper. Walcott added his second a minute later, placing in to the bottom corner after a being set through by Ross Barkley.
Walcott should have completed his hat-trick with ten minutes left, shooting wide after latching on to a gallivanting John Stones’ pass. Harry Kane could also have added to the scoreline, but he struggled to control the bouncing ball as he tried to round the keeper, who dealt with the danger well. Joe Hart was forced in to a late save, as Della Valle cut in on to his left foot but curled it straight to the England stopper.
Although it’s hard to gauge a performance against San Marino, there were some shining lights. Jonjo Shelvey continued his club form, proving a competent replacement for Jack Wilshere, whilst Ross Barkley also showed glimpses of quality through the middle. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looked a lot stronger when he stuck to the wing, whilst Luke Shaw’s performance will do his push to be first choice at left back no harm. However Jamie Vardy did not look England quality. Although a willing runner, he was never heavily involved, with his only real involvement being two clashes of heads with Brolli.d
Hart 6; Clyne 7, Stones 6, Jagielka 6, Shaw 8; Shelvey 8, Milner 7 (Delph, 58, 7), Barkley 8; Oxlade-Chamberlain 8 (Walcott, 67, 8), Vardy 6, Rooney 7 (Kane, 58, 7)