England hit 10 past San Marino to secure World Cup place
By Danny Fairley
England reach qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar by hitting double figures for the first time since 1964 past helpless San Marino.
Harry Kane continued to stack up the records as he claimed four goals in the first half to match Gary Lineker’s 48 England goals with only Sir Bobby Charlton and Wayne Rooney in front of him, only five away from securing the all-time record. Kane also set a new high of 13 for his country in a calendar year.
Bottom ranked (210th out of 210) San Marino’s night didn’t begin as they would have hoped as Phil Foden’s swinging corner allowed Harry Maguire to tower over his marker and header the ball into the back of the net. Shortly after England doubled as Bukayo Saka’s deflected shot rolled past the keeper, going down as a Filippo Fabbri own goal.
Saka continued to thrive down the left as he put in an inviting cross to meet Foden’s overhead kick, though the shot went wide the ball struck the unnaturally positioned hand of San Marino’s Dante Rossi resulting in Kane’s first of the night with a cool-headed penalty. Just five minutes later Kane grabbed his second as Emile Smith-Rowe’s cut back allowed Kane to find the bottom corner.
Nicola Nanni did manage to attempt San Marino’s only shot on target with a right footed effort from 20 yards out forcing Aaron Ramsdale into a diving save. However, a few minutes later Kane met Saka’s cross heading it into the arms of Alessandro D’Addario helping England get their second penalty of the game. Kane confidently hit the top left corner and claimed his second first half hattrick in two games.
Kane didn’t stop there as only two minutes later captured his fourth of the night with some neat footwork in the box, allowing him to slot the ball in the left bottom corner.
After the break England continued to extend their lead as second half substitution Tammy Abraham helped tee up Smith-Rowe to score his first goal on his first England start.
If the home sides night couldn’t get any worse Rossi received his second yellow of the game leaving San Marino to play just over 20 minutes with 10 men. Soon after Tyrone Mings also claimed his first goal for England by meeting Alexander-Arnold’s well delivered free kick.
England debutant Conor Gallagher impressed after coming on for the second half though couldn’t find the net seeing a well worked build up strike the post. Nonetheless, minutes after Abraham got amongst the goals by taking the pace off Alexander-Arnold’s cross with the touch of his knee to then direct the ball in the bottom left corner.
Alexander-Arnold reached a hattrick of assists as he planted the ball into the path of Saka from two yards out to header England’s 10th of the night in an overall dominating performance.
Now England have comfortably achieved World Cup qualification they can look to improve on last time out reaching the semi-final in Russia in 2018.
England boss Gareth Southgate: “We gave a performance that was enjoyable for the supporters that travelled, was clinical in the way we went about it, and then showed some exciting young players coming through.
"Of course we will have much tougher tests but I've been involved in nights like this with England that have been horrible, where the crowd were on our backs, where the whole environment was very different.
"It was nice to see young players going in and enjoying themselves and giving a good showing.
"I just like the fact we have got a mentality where we don't take our foot off the gas and whatever the challenge I have set the players they have responded to it."
San Marino: Benedettini (3), M Battistini (3), Fabbri (3), Rossi (2), F Tomassini (3), Lunadei (6), E Golinucci (3), Mularoni (3), D’Addario (3), Nanni (4), Hirsch (3).
Subs: Conti (3), Vitaioli (3), Grandoni (3), Golinucci (3).
Unused Subs: Censoni, Tomassini, Zonzini, Benedettini, Zafferani, Ceccaroli, Battistini, Marconi.
England: Ramsdale (6), Coady (6), Maguire (7), Mings (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Bellingham (7), Phillips (6), Saka (8), Foden (6), Kane (9), Smith-Rowe (8).
Subs: Abraham (7), Chilwell (6), James (6), Gallagher (6), Stones (6).
Unused Subs: Johnstone, Walker, Pickford.
Referee: Rade Obrenovic
Location: Stadio Olimpico di Serravalle, San Marino