12th October 2012
World Cup Qualifier
Wembley Stadium, London
England 5-0 San Marino
Well that wasn’t as bad as might have feared. Holding out for half an hour, and even then only conceding to a penalty, is not so bad.
Two down at the break, and five overall away to England is about as good as San Marino could really expect.
So frankly, I’m chalking this one down as a decent result for San Marino. Naturally there was no threat whatsoever going forward, and endless calls of “they shouldn’t be here” by the English media and pundits, but there you go.
It’s not San Marino’s fault they have the population of a small English town, and it’s not their fault that UEFA don’t have a preliminary round to weed out the minnowest minnows. Until they do, the likes of England will just have to deign to beat San Marino every now and then. Which they do to be fair.
Amid what was a fairly routine win for England (they enjoyed a startling 86% of the possession), the most interesting moment came when Danilo Rinaldi, the San Marino midfielder, got past Gary Cahill and found himself bearing down on Joe Hart in the English goal. With much of the large Wembley crowd willing him on to score only for the roars of encouragement to turn to groans of disappointment as Rinaldi skewed his shot wide. What a moment that could have been.
After the match, Giampaolo Mazza praised his team for only racking up “two bookings, and playing with a lot of fair play.” Such are the limited goals for San Marino is a fixture such as this. In the ITV studio afterwards, Gareth Southgate wondered aloud “What’s the point of San Marino?” Such condescension is nothing new, but there is a delicious irony in this instance. San Marino could easily reply that it is they who are the sovereign independent nation, unlike England, whose place in international football is of course for historical reasons rather than nationhood reasons. San Marino have every right to play international football like any other country.
Check out the highlights here…