- European World Cup Qualifiers
- 12 October 2012, 8:00pm
FULL TIME: A surreal and strange night at Wembley but England have at least notched up an adequate margin of victory to boost their goal difference and avoid any scares. San Marino are frankly an embarrassment to the competition. Their lack of any intent to score a goal makes a mockery of their place in World Cup qualifying, quite frankly. We shall attempt to forget their 'contribution' to this game and look ahead to an actual football match next Tuesday in Poland.
90+2 mins: England try to conjure up a sixth but Welbeck's clumsy touch sends Baines too far wide, then Carroll fails to hit his shot cleanly. Messy.
90 mins: We'll have three more minutes of this dross to put up with.
89 mins: England slaloming in and out of the San Marino box. Cleverley's curler is charged down. Many empty seats beginning to appear around the stadium. Some have seen enough.
86 mins: Andy Townsend has given Danny Welbeck the man of the match award. I disagree. Leighton Baines is the only England player who has posed a consistent threat, but Welbeck gets the award because his name is on the scoresheet. Why can pundits never look past the goalscorers when picking a MotM?
83 mins: Simone Bacciocchi comes on for Vitaioli. England need to keep an eye on him. He has the ability to change games with a sublime piece of trickery. I'm lying. He's a 35-year-old with a pony tail and a full-time job which isn't being a footballer.
81 mins: A nice dummy by Cleverley gives Shelvey a bit of room. A dip of the shoulder from him and he creates space for a drive, but hits it too close to the keeper with his left peg.
79 mins: Andy Selvi - the 36 year old 'legend' of San Marino (with eight goals he is their leading scorer by five), comes on for Cervellini.
77 mins: FIRST ENGLAND GOAL FOR THE OX! Again Baines is involved, feeding it into the centre for Welbeck. The ball bobbles off his shin, is shovelled sideways by Cleverley and eventually falls for Oxlade-Chamberlain. He instinctively hits it and produces a very nice little curler into the far corner.
76 mins: England continue to try and thread the ball through a tangled mass of legs on the edge of the box. Depressing though it is, they might be best trying a more direct approach with Carroll now on the field.
75 mins: Change for San Marino - Lorenzo Buscarini makes his international debut as he comes on for Coppini.
73 mins: There will be no hat-trick for Rooney as he is replaced by Andy Carroll.
71 mins: AND ANOTHER FOR WELBECK!Another little two-goal burst for this England strike duo. Cleverley is the architect here, keeping possession well on the right before firing across the six yard box where Welbeck stabs the ball home at the near post.
69 mins: ROONEY GET HIS SECOND! England finally manage to stretch San Marino's back 10 as Shelvey spreads play to Baines on the left. He nods inside to Lennon who touches the ball to Rooney, lurking unmarked 20 yards out. He steps up and curls a cracker into the bottom right hand corner.
67 mins: Welbeck tries to lunge across his marker to get his boot on to Walker's cross from the right, but can't make contact.
66 mins: Jonjo Shelvey comes on to replace Carrick.
65 mins: A chance for San Marino! A chance! They've crossed the halfway line! Rinaldi is through down the left with one defender for company. As his nose starts to bleed and his knees start knocking, he hurriedly shoots from the left corner of the area. It's hideous. He slices it about 10 yards wide. Hilariously, a member of the England physio team sitting behind Roy Hodgson joins quite a few of the crowd in applauding!
64 mins: Rinaldi is booked, ridiculously, for getting in the way as Cleverley tries to take a quick free kick.
63 mins: Baines rattles a free kick over the San Marino wall but it doesn't quite dip in time as it whistles over the bar. Wales have equalised via a Bale penalty by the way. James Morison gave Scotland a first-half lead.
60 mins: Cahill ought to have scored again. Baines' corner is swung right on to his bonce only six yards out but it slips off his forehead and well wide. He was rather impeded by a team-mate who I think may have been Rooney.
58 mins: Baines, who has been England's best player, cuts the ball back from the byline for Cleverley, but he stabs his shot left-footed into the turf and San Marino scramble it clear from their own six yard box. The possession stats must be laughable - I'd guess at least 75% England.
56 mins: Baines' tremendous cross reaches Lennon at the far post, but it should have been cut out by the defender in front of him and the shock factor of the ball reaching him sees him miscontrol it. England may as well pitch a tent on the edge of the box. They've barely moved from that position all night.
54 mins: Really, what is the point of San Marino? They may have the same population as Leyton Buzzard, but their managers has been in charge for 14 years! He's the longest serving international manager in Europe. Is this the best plan he's got after all this time? Just defend and simply don't make *any effort WHATSOEVER* to score a goal? How have they EVER scored a goal when they play like this? It's a bonafide travesty and the 90,000 here tonight deserve a refund, frankly.
52 mins: Lovely fluid move by England eventually sets up Carrick for the chance to beat Simoncelli from only 12 yards but he stubs a left-footed prod at the keeper's legs. Tame. Seconds later, Cahill is furthest forward and is set up for a volley only six yards out. He fluffs it. Should have been three.
48 mins: Not for the first time, Walker makes a carless error, allowing the ball to travel under his foot and out for a throw-in. A sage text from Craig in Ely: "Every country has the right to try and qualify so cant kick them out for just being rubbish! They are a tiny country. But I would have more respect if they left 1 blokes up top all game. Why not chance it with a long ball?"
46 mins:England get the second half under way. No changes. Big question for San Marino - will they try to score a goal? I don't mean 'register a shot on target', I mean 'simply *try*.
HALF TIME:Polite applause as the three little peeps take the players off the pitch. England haven't been brilliant, but the win is already in the bag. There's been plenty written this week about San Marino's hopelessness but what strikes me more about them is their joyless lack of ambition. Do they never get fed up of putting all 11 men inside their own half? Do they never feel like, y'know, actually trying to score a goal? If you start every game with practically no hope, why not at least have a go? I have to agree with those who say they shouldn't even be playing in these qualifying groups. Rant over. I'm off to put the kettle on.
45+1 mins: Surprising that there will only be three minutes of added time after that lengthy early stoppage for the Walcott injury. Oxlade-Chamberlain makes space very skilfully for a shot but then dribbles it bathetically into the keeper's grasp.
44 mins: Rooney jinks past a couple of tackles but his whipped shot from 20 yards is way off target. Della Valle is then up to more antics as he bundles Lennon over inside the box, but he gets away with it again.
42 mins: San Marino captain Della Valle has blatantly fouled Welbeck three times in the last two minutes inside the box as they wait for crosses to be delivered. Both really should have been penalties but were far enough off the ball for the ref not to have noticed.
40 mins: Lovely link-up play between scouse duo Baines and Rooney. The United striker almost finishes it off with a whipped shot from the left corner of the area which Simoncini tips around the post at full stretch.
37 mins: WELBECK MAKES IT TWO!! Do I hear the creaking of the floodgates? A terrific finish this by Welbeck, reminiscent of his beauty against Sweden at the Euros. Lennon is played clean through down the right hand side of the area and plays it square across the six yard line for Welbeck. It's slight behind him but he performs a very dainty little back flick to knock it past the keeper with his heel. Very nicely done. That's his first goal of the season as well.
35 mins: ROONEY RATTLES IT HOME! Struck firmly high into the left hand corner and that's Rooney's first goal of the season for club or country.
34 mins: PENALTY TO ENGLAND! Welbeck is fed inside the area, the goalkeeper comes out but the Manchester United striker gets his toe to the ball first. There's clear contact, Welbeck, as we know, needs no invitation to hit the deck and - timber! - down he goes. Clear penalty. Simoncini is booked.
33 mins: England hit the woodwork! Twice! Carrick absolutely mullers an exocet against the bar, the rebound falls for Welbeck only eight yards out but he scuffs it against the post.
31 mins: Rooney misses from three yards! Lennon is sent down the right, cuts it back for Cleverley, he whips a lovely ball to the far post where Rooney has outmuscled his marker, but as he's wriggled to the floor he nods the ball wide!
29 mins: England's best chance yet sees Cahill chest down a right-wing cross, but his powerful low shot from 15 yards rebounds away to safety off a defender.
28 mins: It's a pretty surreal atmosphere. There's a general hush among the crowd like the morning session of a Lord's Test - no singing, just a mute expectation that something ought to be happening quite soon.
26 mins: Baines jinks to the byline but his crosses takes a deflection and loops up into the air, making Rooney's header more difficult than it might otherwise have been. Surrounded by two defenders, he can't keep it down.
24 mins: Oxlade-Chamberlain glimpses a rare chink in the blue wall and has a crack from 20 yards but it's too close to Simoncini who fumbles it away unconvincingly.
22 mins: Rooney is heavily involved in setting up Oxlade-Chamberlain but he is thwarted by San Marino's massed ranks. Walker then has a dig from 25 yards but his shot cannons off a defender. Wembley is remaining patient. For now.
20 mins:England manoeuvre Walker into some space down the right. His curling cross takes a little nick off Palazzi and goalkeeper Simoncini plucks it pretty confidently as several white shirts close in.
18 mins: There have been a notable number of off-target passes by England so far. Those of you who had a wee dabble on it being goalless at half time might allow yourselves a little tingle of excitement.
16 mins: Baines raids down the left and his low ball fizzed into the danger zone is sliced just past his own near post by Brolli. England make nothing of the corner. How long before the crowd starts groaning, I wonder?
14 mins: Joe Hart gets his first touch as Baines retreats to give him a calm backpass. San Marino have nobody in the opposition half. Nobody. Not even when they win possession.
12 mins: Half a chance for Rooney as he gives his marker Palazzi the slip but despite connecting with Baines' corner, the United forward's header is off target.
11 mins: England mustn't let that long injury stoppage interrupt their tempo. Walker tries to feed Cleverley, who'd made a nice run inside the full-back, but the Spurs man's pass is slightly over-hit and rolls through to the San Marino keeper.
10 mins: Fine slaloming run by Oxlade-Chamberlain down the left before he cuts back for Rooney, but his ball into the centre is cut out. Walcott can't carry on and is replaced by Aaron Lennon on the right wing. The Arsenal winger is led down the tunnel looking winded and very groggy.
8 mins: Good news. Walcott is on his feet but hobbles off for more treatment. England play on with ten men for now. "Chance tonight to put pressure on other teams in the group by filling our (coloured) boots. If it comes down to goal difference we need to have scored a few tonight. Prediction 2-0 :-)" guffaws Paul in Horsham. John Crocker in Scarborough adds: "What is Rooney doing in this team never mind as captain. RED CARD noquestion. G. Cahill. First Scorer."
6 mins: There's a long delay here as Walcott receives treatment. Hodgson was livid with the keeper's challenge and is still wearing a look of disgust. As the physios and doctors crowd around Walcott there's more concern with every seconds that ticks by...
4 mins: Rooney hooks the ball on for Walcott who's beaten offside and is in a race for the ball with the keeper, who hurries off his line. Simoncini gets there first - just - but follows through by clattering into Walcott. The collision is very nasty. Puzzling as to why he didn't receive a card there really. Walcott stays down and the stretcher is on...
2 mins: A predictable start - San Marino retreat very deep and in numbers. As I type that, Oxlade-Chamberlain smacks one from 20 yards that Simoncini tips over the bar.
0:08.3 mins: Yes! Comfortably! Think I may have laboured that joke enough now.
0 mins: San Marino kick off. Can England survive the first 8.3 seconds?....
1946: Evenin' all. Davide Gualtieri now works in an electronics shop and has gone bald, but his prod past David Seaman in November 1993 after 8.3 seconds is one of the most famous moments in English football history. It's also the quickest World Cup goal of all time. Roy Hodgson could do without any perilously short backpasses tonight as England have a gentle jog around Wembley's ample turf to warm up for Tuesday's trip to Poland. Anything less than a four- or five-goal win will probably be regarded as a disappointment. It's a hiding to nothing, but that hasn't stopped 90,000 from snapping up tickets. I've chucked a gold coin at Leighton Baines first goalscorer at 11/1 and an England 3-1 win at 50/1. Anyone else chucking their money away in similar fashion tonight? Any score predictions? Anything else to get off your chest? Use the boxes on your right to have your say. Kick off will be upon us shortly...
1855: Roy Hodgson's line-up is revealed and it's precisely as predicted. Danny Welbeck leads the line with captain Wayne Rooney floating behind him like a stalker. Ashley Cole is dropped/rested (delete as appropriate) in favour of Leighton Baines. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will zip down the flanks. Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley operate in central midfield. Kyle Walker, Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka will make up the rest of the defence in front of Joe Hart, who should have a very quiet evening.
I'm sure you'll all be intrigued by the San Marino line-up. The only news of much significance I can pick out is that Andy Selva, their 36-year-old star player, has been left on the bench. He is the minnows' record scorer and until earlier this year was the only player to score more than one goal for the country.
San Marino are 207th and joint-last in the Fifa rankings and are still searching for their first ever competitive win; their only victory since their affiliation with Fifa in 1990 came in 2004 when they beat Liechtenstein.
- European World Cup Qualifiers
- 12 October 2012, 8:00pm
Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck both scored twice as England ground out a 5-0 win over San Marino at Wembley on Friday night.
Rooney proved himself not just a jack of all trades but master of a few as well as he guided England to their expected World Cup victory over San Marino at Wembley.
Skipper Rooney scored twice in front of a healthy 84,654 crowd, taking him to 31 international goals, one more than Alan Shearer, Nat Lofthouse and Tom Finney and England's fifth highest goalscorer.
Manchester United team-mate Welbeck also bagged a brace before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain become England's fourth youngest goalscorer.
The result took England three points clear at the top of Group H and in good heart for Tuesday's crucial trip to Poland, even though Theo Walcott must be rated as extremely doubtful after being forced off inside the opening five minutes.
Although plenty of the Club Wembley executives had given the game a miss, the cheap seats were more or less full, and they knew exactly what to expect.
Wave after wave of England attacks. The world's joint-worst side having a gameplan no more elaborate than desperate defence. On the rare occasions Joe Hart touched the ball, it was greeted with raucous cheers.
San Marino had to be beaten though. And it took England half an hour to work out how.
The visitors had a lucky escape in the opening minutes. Had Aldo Simoncini's airborne challenge on Theo Walcott been executed by anyone other than a goalkeeper, it is difficult to imagine he would have stayed on the pitch - reckless and dangerous, it sent Walcott cartwheeling.
On the touchline, Roy Hodgson was furious. He was still seething when it was confirmed Walcott's evening was over and Aaron Lennon was sent on in his place.
It merely delayed the procession. Rooney had already come close on a couple of occasions when Oxlade-Chamberlain brought an excellent save out of Simoncini from the edge of the area.
Rooney then sent a far-post header from Tom Cleverley's cross narrowly wide before Michael Carrick smashed a shot against the bar, which Welbeck should have turned home but somehow shovelled against a post.
It was difficult to be too critical of England given the limitations of their opponents provided so little space to operate in.
But their passing wasn't as crisp as it needed to be in order to open San Marino up and when the opener came, it was something of a surprise as Welbeck charged into the box and was upended by Simoncini.
Rooney had no hesitation in accepting even more responsibility and duly drove home the spot-kick.
Within three minutes, England had another.
When Welbeck acrobatically turned home the winner against Sweden during Euro 2012, some questioned whether he meant it.
The impudent manner in which the 21-year-old turned home Lennon's cross, from a very similar position, left no room for debate.
Rooney was denied by a brilliant Simoncini save before the break, then Carrick's shot was deflected away from danger immediately after it.
From the corner, Gary Cahill really should have scored but when Leighton Baines, who had kept his place at the expense of Ashley Cole, picked him out at the far post, the Chelsea man shinned it rather than catch the ball on the volley as he intended.
Cahill then sent a header wide before Baines was inches away from curling home a 25-yard free-kick.
Hodgson decided to inject a bit more life into his midfield by introducing Jonjo Shelvey for his debut.
The Liverpool man had only been called up on Monday, and was actually suspended from England Under-21's play-off win over Serbia earlier today.
FIFA's eligibility rules meant he could play for the seniors though and the 20-year-old's introduction was immediately followed by another Rooney-Welbeck one-two.
Lennon was about to get a free-kick when Rooney fired home from the edge of the area, a landmark goal which means he has only four more men to overtake and become England's greatest marksman.
Yet again, Welbeck followed up almost instantly. Once more at the near post, this time Cleverley providing the cross which he prodded home from close range.
Hodgson had seen enough to get Rooney off in readiness for Tuesday's more testing assignment with Poland in Warsaw.
It meant he was only watching when Oxlade-Chamberlain made his own little bit of history 14 minutes from time, tucking himself behind Tommy Lawton, Michael Owen, and England's youngest goalscorer of all, Rooney.