Thursday 9th October 2014
European Championships Qualifying Group E
Wembley Stadium, London, England
England 5-0 San Marino
San Marino suffered a 5-0 defeat at Wembley that actually saw a little more progressive play from the boys in blue than had been the case in their previous recent matches with England. While not threatening very often or very convincingly, they did at least have a couple of efforts on goal and looked to get forward when the opportunity arose. It didn’t arise often of course; there were repeated occasions when there was simply no out ball. But it was noticeable to me that under coach Pierangelo Manzeroli that San Marino are willing to try a little more than simply to frustrate.
Manzeroli has had a little but of success (it’s all relative of course…) with the under-21 side, including a victory of Wales not so long ago, and it is encouraging what he is looking to implement with the senior side.
They were of course outclassed and well beaten, and could easily have conceded more than they did; notably Adam Lallana had a goal ruled out for a non-existent offside. But as it was it took England almost half an hour to find the break through. A James Milner was headed into an unguarded net by Phil Jagielka after keeper Aldo Simoncini had come for the ball only to stumble and fall, leaving the net wide open. San Marino claimed Simoncini had been tripped, and he may have brushed Gary Cahill’s shin on the ay past, but any contact was accidental and the appeals had seemed a little comical sadly.
Another note of comedy had come earlier when Simoncini double handled the ball in the box to concede an indirect free kick, which he then atoned for in saving the relatively weak effort.
The second goal was also self inflicted to some extent as veteran striker Andy Selva tried to clear a ball from Wayne Rooney’s head with his foot. A penalty, fired home by Rooney, was the inevitable result.
Having kept the score to just two at the break, it seemed to start to go wrong straight away in the second half as Danny Welbeck finsihed neatly within minutes of the restart after nice work by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right.
But San Marino dug in again and England were guilty of trying to walk the ball into the net on occasion, and once or twice San Marino simply overloaded the defensive zone to crowd out some English chances.
After Lallana’s ruled out effort, the fourth did eventually come from a fine Andros Townsend strike before number five came after Alessandro Della Valle unwittingly deflected Rooney’s cross/shot past Simoncini and into the net – his second successive own goal at Wembley. Della Valle now has the distinction of having scored twice for England which must be an achievement of some note worthiness!
England went close a couple of more times but San Marino held on to keep it to five.
Coach Manzaroli commented afterward that “against teams of this stature, sometimes the results are worse. In the first half, England actually overachieved a bit.” A worse result than the Lithaunia match, yes, but by San Marino standards not a terrible display.
There has of course been all of the usual harping from the English media about the pointlessness of San Marino, and quite why they bother and why anyone should bother playing them. Condescension is the order of the day, and of course the pre qualifying idea has been mentioned once more. I can only point you, dear reader, in the direction of this article on football 365 which sums it up better than I can.
Goal action can be seen here…
Up next on Tuesday are a Swiss side who have now suffered two successive defeats to open their Euro campaign, losing 1-0 in Slovenia on Thursday, and may be out for blood in Serravalle next week. It will take some effort to keep them at bay for long, although a glance at the group standings below shows that San Marino only trail the Swiss on goal difference…ok, that won’t last.
Match Day 2 results:
England 5-0 San Marino
Lithuania 2-0 Estonia
Slovenia 1-0 Switzerland
|England||Pl. 2||Pts. 6|