had the perfect warm-up match for their vital group game coming up
in four days time, when they travelled to the International scene's
poorest side San
In the past
haven't always been as efficient as they should be in a game like
this, but this time there was no argument as Roy Hodgson's side did
everything that they had to do.
Right from the start
played the ball around neatly and crisply and stretched the home
set themselves up with a bank of four players in front of a back five
with the sole intention of keeping the scoreline respectable.
were not to be denied and they were soon peppering Aldo Simoncini's
goal. In the first five
forced several corners and they almost scored on six minutes, as
captain for the night Frank Lampard saw his shot pushed around the
post by the goalkeeper.
The pressure continued apace and Ashley Young won yet another corner,
but the nearest we came to the opening goal came when Wayne Rooney
headed a deep cross down for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Unfortunately the ball bounced a little higher than
Oxlade-Chamberlain would have liked but the Arsenal player still
managed to clip a lob over the keeper, but the ball bounced onto the
top of the crossbar. At
this stage it was all England
and two minutes later they took a deserved, if somewhat fortuitous
A lovely long pass from Lampard found the lively
Leighton Baines scampering down the left wing.
He hit a first time cross into the middle towards Rooney, but
the striker never had the chance to score as home defender Alessandro
Della Vella beat him to it, deflecting the ball past his own
Simoncini was a little lucky a few minutes later when he handled the
ball outside his area, only for the officials to offer no punishment.
Maybe they were showing a little leniency, knowing what might
Jermaine Defoe was the next player to miss a good
chance and it was the marauding Baines who seemed to be the best
avenue of attack for England.
The San Marino
defenders were making some desperate interceptions and clearances as
England's pressure continued.
If there was a criticism then it was in the fact that many
corners appeared to be wasted by
with hardly any headers being won in the box.
But San Marino's players were all puffing and blowing after
just 25 minutes and three minutes later England scored a good goal to
make it 2-0. Brilliant
inter-passing between Rooney and Oxlade-Chamberlain ended with the
latter firing home a fierce shot.
The goal meant that he had passed his Dad's total of one goal,
so he will be able to have family bragging rights from now on!
Actually Oxlade-Chamberlain was one of the stars of the night
for England and he had a hand in much of the best of England's play.
Kyle Walker was able to stride forward and join
the attack on many occasions, and on 33 minutes Defoe found the net
only for an offside decision to rule out the goal.
But that was only a temporary respite for the home side and two
minutes later England increased their lead.
Rooney's chip to the far post was headed across goal by
Oxlade-Chamberlain and it left the predatory Defoe with a very easy
tap-in from two yards out.
There was no let up for San Marino and a jinking
run and shot from Lampard in the 38th minute was only saved at the
second attempt by Aldo Simoncini.
Then, a minute later, England made it 4-0 with the goal of the
game. Young and Baines
exchanged passes, and Young took one touch before firing in a
tremendous shot from 25 yards out which absolutely flew into the top
corner with the goalkeeper helpless.
It was a goal worthy of beating a much better side than San
Marino. There was still
time for England to add a fifth goal to their total before the break.
Super play down the left eventually found Baines and once again
the full-back played the ball inside.
Rooney dummied the pass and there was Lampard to continue his
rich vein of scoring of late with an excellent side-footed finish.
The half ended with England totally and utterly dominant in
every facet of the game and the only problem might be that the second
half would see an easing off of the peddle from England.
However, Hodgson's England side would never let
that happen and it was the same pattern from the first whistle after
the restart. Four minutes
into the half Rooney hit a good shot that was tipped over, but the
Manchester United striker was not going to be denied a goal in this
high scoring win. On 54
minutes England were awarded a free-kick just outside the box after a
foul on Tom Cleverley.
Despite the presence of Baines, Rooney made it clear that only one
player was going to take that particular kick.
He didn't waste it and curled his shot over the wall and into
the bottom corner of the net with the keeper nowhere to be seen!
Both Rooney and Cleverley were taken off shortly
after that, with Tuesday's match in Montenegro in mind no doubt, but
it did not adversely affect England's attacking play with Daniel
Sturridge and Leon Osman coming on.
In fact it was Sturridge who was next to go close as
Oxlade-Chamberlain's deep cross found Sturridge leaping to head
against a post.
Shortly after that attack there was a remarkable
incident at the other end as San Marino mustered there first shot at
goal. Joe Hart had
fluffed a clearance a little and Fabio Bollini decided to fire in a
shot. Behind the goals at
this ground is what can only be described as parkland, with grassy
banks and trees! Bollini
managed to hit one of those trees, probably disturbing a few San
Marino squirrels in the process.
that memorable moment it was business as usual and both Sturridge and
Oxlade-Chamberlain went close to adding further goals for England.
Osman shot wide, San Marino won a corner, and Scott Parker came
on for Lampard, with Lescott taking the captain's armband as the game
Then on 70 minutes more good play by England
produced a seventh goal.
Defoe and Young combined well again and Young produced a perfect
chipped cross for Sturridge to head home at the far post for his first
England goal. Walker was
still breaking dangerously and the other full-back Baines saw a
free-kick parried away.
With 13 minutes to go brilliant play between Oxlade-Chamberlain, my
man of the match by the way, and Walker, ended with another simple
tap-in for Defoe, who scored his second of the match.
Indeed in the final minutes Defoe could and should have
completed his hat-trick but missed two good chances.
No matter, in the end it was a very good professional
performance by England and you really could not fault the application
and the execution of their task.
Now it is onwards and upwards to Podgorica for the next
exciting instalment of this World Cup adventure.