England shine at the Greenhous Meadow
England U 21: Jack Butland (c) (Jonathan Bond, 46), Carl Jenkinson. Jack Robinson, Will Hughes, John Stones (Eric Dier, 62), Michael Keane, Tom Ince (Patrick Bamford, 65), James Ward-Prowse, Danny Ings, Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling
Substitutes: Luke Shaw, Nathaniel Chalobah, Wilfried Zaha, Ravel Morrison
San Marino U 21: Andrea Manzaroli (Michele Berardi, 83) Gian Luca Proli, Daniele Maiani, Cristian Brolli, Mirco Ciambotta (Angelo Faetanini, 69), Juri Biordi, Lorenzon Liverani (Davide Casarini, 69), Eugenio Colombini (c), Marco Bernardi, Alessandro Golinucci, Manuel Battistini
Substitutes: Nicol Angelini, Maximiliano Baizan, Andrea Zavoli, Alessandro Zonzini
Referee: Gunnar Jarl Jonsson
Assistants: Gylfi Mar Sigurdsson & Birkir Sigurdarson
Fourth Official: Erlendur Eiriksson
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
England under 21’s preserved their 100% home record in this season’s European Championship qualifiers with a 9-0 demolition job on minnows San Marino. England were five up at the break with goals from Michael Keane, Raheem Stirling, Danny Ings, James Ward-Prowse and Tom Ince. Stirling and Ings would both add to their tallies in the second 45 with Carl Jenkinson and Will Hughes completing the scoring.
Manager Gareth Southgate made four changes to his side for this group match at Shrewsbury. West Brom striker Saido Berahino – scorer of two goals in Thursday night’s 3-0 win over Finland – had to sit the game out due to suspension and Nathaniel Chalobah, Wilfried Zaha, Ravel Morrison and Luke Shaw all had to be content with subs jerseys. Into Southgate’s starting XI came Hughes, Ince, Ings and Jesse Lingard.
As might be expected the home side saw plenty of the football in the opening 10 minutes but with a formation that resembled 6-4-0, the blue wall of San Marino shirts afforded plenty of protection to their goalkeeper. Promising Derby youngster Hughes was unfortunate to see his left foot curler from the edge of the box flash wide of the left hand post but England would soon go in front. From Ince’s corner Keane climbed high above his marker to loop a header into the net with a San Marino defender guarding the post suitably embarrassed at his failure to clear.
Not as embarrassed as Mirco Ciambotta mind, who had ample opportunity to get shut when Stirling’s effort was going a mile wide. Instead the centre half dallied and gave the following up Liverpool man the easiest of chances from a couple of yards for England’s second in as many minutes.
On 17 minutes it became 3-0 when Ince’s peach of a cross was well guided into the net via the upright with a quick flick of his head by Burnley’s Ings. San Marino still had the proverbial bus parked up, although sadly for them it resembled more of an estate car and it was full of holes. Having racked up three goals in five minutes, England’s goals for column – 14 coming into this game – was looking likely to significantly improve. The goals against – one – didn’t look in any danger of changing.
After 24 minutes it was four, matching the final score of the reverse fixture last month. Sterling was fouled on the edge of the box and Southampton’s Ward-Prowse curled an absolute beauty into the top corner to leave Andrea Manzaroli with absolutely no chance.
England were carving through the San Marino side at will with their neat passing and intelligent runs into key areas. The visitors had won for the first time in over 7 years when they beat Wales 1-0 in September, although how the Welsh didn’t manage to score against this lot might well go down as one of the biggest mysteries of modern day football.
Ings headed over from Jenkinson’s right wing cross while at the other end it took a solid tackle from Everton man John Stones to prevent Alessandro Golinucci registering San Marino’s first shot on target. And after 35 minutes Jenkinson and Ings combined again but Ings couldn’t keep his near post effort low enough to trouble the keeper.
Lingard inadvertently got in the way of a Stones header from another Ince flag-kick otherwise the net would have been bulging for a fifth time. It was just like watching the Shrews!
Three minutes before the break the nap hand was completed. Great combination work down the left by Stirling and Ings laid on a goal on a platter for Ince sliding in unopposed at the back stick. England were making it look very easy and at the halfway stage they were halfway towards double figures. It looked more of a probability than a possibility.
Half Time: England 5 San Marino 0
Southgate changed goalkeepers at the interval with Jack Butland replaced by Jonathan Bond. England scored a sixth three minutes after the restart when Ings and Jenkinson both went in search of a tap in from half a yard when a scuffed shot made its way through to the far post. Ings was marginally the hungrier of the two to poach his second of the evening – he’s unlikely to score an easier one for the rest of his career.
Just before the hour England struck again and the goal was all about the superb vision of Ince. His delightful chip over the top was perfectly weighted and Sterling lobbed his second with a lovely finish.
And just a minute later Ince would once more turn provider with Jenkinson at last having a goal to celebrate. The Blackpool midfielder played in the right back and he slipped the ball under the advancing goalkeeper for goal number eight. The opposition were hardly world class – not even village class actually – but Ince was head and shoulders above anyone else on view before being withdrawn with 25 minutes left.
England nearly had a ninth but for San Marino finally discovering the ancient art of defending by putting bodies on the line. Then Manzaroli made the save of the night to prevent Hughes from adding to the tally.
With 22 minutes still to play the England under 21’s were looking at a record scoreline provided they didn’t concede – there was more chance of record ice cream sales tomorrow! Between Butland and Bond, the England keepers hadn’t handled the ball between them all night!
With 12 minutes to go Hughes bent in a fantastic solo goal after some nifty footwork on the edge of the box to make it 9-0, and shortly after Lingard thought he had a tenth but the referee blew for a foul on Manzaroli. The keeper lay on the ground but perhaps he was just shattered from being overworked. In any event he was replaced and would not face the ignominy of conceding for a tenth time.
With two minutes left Jack Robinson blasted against the post with the away side hanging on grimly and Lingard’s volley flashed just wide as the tidal wave of white remained at a constant. The Manchester United youngster cracked another one even closer to the target in the first of four additional minutes but despite the bombardment, Southgate’s men just couldn’t get the 10th goal a 9,264 home support badly wanted. Credit must go to England for their professional approach throughout, in the most one-sided game of football I think I have ever witnessed.
Full Time: England 9 San Marino 0