Rooney equals England record in 6-0 rout of San Marino
It may have been a routine 6-0 win for England against minnows San Marino, who were taken apart on home turf, but the Euro 2016 qualifying Group B victory was one to savour for Three Lions fans.
Skipper Wayne Rooney equaled Sir Bobby Charlton’s England all-time scorer record, drawing level on 49 goals with the World Cup-winning legend. While, Roy Hodgson’s men have now also cemented their safe passage to the finals in France next summer, becoming the first team to do so.
A 13th minute set-piece scramble in San Marino’s area saw England awarded a penalty, and Rooney fulfilled his role in the script by coolly converting the spot-kick to stand on the verge of making Three Lions history.
A turgid spell followed, with San Marino stopper Aldo Simoncini called upon twice to rush out and thwart chances for Jamie Vardy and then on-rushing Rooney.
It took just 29 minutes for the Three Lions to make it 2-0, though, this time due to an unfortunate own goal. Luke Shaw dashed from left back to whip in a lethal cross, which centre back Cristian Brolli beat Rooney to, nodding into his own net.
Silky centre half John Stones came close to making it three with his own foray forward, but Simoncini caught his headed effort easily, later instinctively saving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s close-range strike.
England eased into the break bossing play as expected against the hard-grafting hosts, but were fortunate to find themselves gifted a two-goal lead, having failed to click into first gear.
In response to a lacklustre first half, the Three Lions flew out of the blocks in the second. Within 15 seconds of the re-start, Oxlade-Chamberlain charged down the right flank before swinging in a cross for Ross Barkley to easily head home.
Travelling fans were then surprised when Hodgson decided to make changes, substituting Rooney, thus denying him the chance to break Charlton’s record, for Harry Kane, with Fabian Delph also replacing James Milner in the 56th minute.
Stones was then back in the opposition box, illustrating attacking intent once again, but could only ripple the outside of the net with an ambitious volley.
Recalled schemer Jonjo Shelvey’s vision and crisp passing, a notable feature of the match, set up Delph, though the midfielder’s shot curled high and wide.
Delph made amends moments later, around the 67th minute mark, as the Manchester City man picked out super sub Theo Walcott, brought on for impressive Oxlade-Chamerlain, in San Marino’s area.
Rapid Walcott burst into the box, and tapped the ball into the back of the net with his first touch of the game, to make it 4-0 to the Three Lions.
Hodgson’s Three Lions finally appeared to be having fun, with Kane next to get in on the action, latching on to Shelvey’s perfectly timed pass before patiently and precisely lofting the ball over Simoncini.
Walcott then made it a superb 6-0 in the 77th minute, completing his brace with a low finish into the left-hand corner as Barkley turned provider.
After Arsenal speedster Walcott spurned his shot at a hat-trick, Argentina-born Danilo Rinaldi gave San Marino fans a rare glimpse of England’s goal, though Joe Hart was equal to the strike when called into action.
Of course, England were expected to flex their muscles in this encounter against the energetic amateurs.
Still, come morning, the match will rightly only be remembered for Rooney’s magnificent milestone and England’s Euro 2016 qualification achievement, no-matter the manner both arrived in.