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Whatever the sadistic mis-match of England facing a nation such as San Marino the records will show that this was the fixture in which Harry Kane scored the four goals that took him level with Gary Lineker on 48 for his country and just one behind Sir Bobby Charlton as he hunts down Wayne Rooney’s all-time total of 53.
The records will also show that this was only the third time since the Second World War, and the first since defeating the United States 57 years ago, that England have recorded double-figures and they could easily have beaten their biggest ever win of 13-0 against Ireland in 1882.
Even so it was still a record win for a competitive fixture but the word competitive in this context is highly questionable. San Marino are ranked 210th in the world by Fifa – 205 places below England – but are simply rank. At 10-0 down in the 89th minute their goalkeeper Elia Benedettini was time-wasting.
For Kane it has been an extraordinary international break with the England captain scoring seven times in just 126 minutes against Albania and here as qualification for next year’s World Cup was secured. If a goal every 18 minutes does not give him a much-needed confidence boost then nothing will.
At this rate Kane will overtake Rooney in 2022 and how memorable it would be if he does so in Qatar even if there are certainly enough games before then to make history.
Kane had lobbied Gareth Southgate hard to play because he obviously knew there were goals to be had. The manager acquiesced and so Kane finished the calendar year with 16 goals – breaking, by four, a record that has stood for 94 years.
In 2021 England have won more games (15), scored more goals (52) and kept more clean sheets (14) than ever before. But of course we all know that the defining matches are to come for this group of players with the next step clear: win a trophy.
Nevertheless Kane also became the first England player to score four in a game since Ian Wright against the same opponents in 1993 and, suffice to say, San Marino have not got any better in the intervening years. They are worse. So compliant were the hosts that they even played ‘Sweet Caroline’ at the final whistle as Kane strode back onto the pitch to collect another match-ball.
Winning 6-0 against this minnow is about par and England achieved that in the first-half alone as Kane scored his fifth hat-trick for The Three Lions. In truth it all felt a little hollow but his relentlessness is incredible.
And so England ended the year as they began it – with a rout against the worst team in the world. In between they have played 17 other games with their only defeat coming in the penalty shoot-out loss to Italy in the final of the European Championships.
With the Sammarinese having already lost all nine group games in qualifying, conceding 36 times and scoring just once this was always going to be a procession. It just depended what kind of procession England wanted to make it with Southgate having demanded a ruthless streak. They did just that and it was kind of embarrassing even if there were plus points with, whatever the opposition, some tidy performances from the young tyros including the Arsenal pair of Bukayo Saka and, in particular, Emile Smith Rowe. Both scored.
As did Harry Maguire. He got it all rolling after little over five minutes having also opened the scoring against Albania last Friday.
Again it came from an uncontested header with Maguire barely having to move as he simply nodded Phil Foden’s corner into the net. This time the celebration was far more subdued. There were no fingers in his ears.
Interestingly, despite all the alterations in personnel, Southgate kept the same 3-4-3 formation which was a clear sign that he probably intends to go with this approach into the World Cup.
While that was being digested, England scored again. Saka had already threatened on several occasions from left wing-back and he was allowed to cut inside and shoot low with the ball taking two deflections. It was an own goal for 19-year-old Filippo Fabbri who plays for Italian Serie D club Forli on loan from Serie C side Cesena.
Then Kane took over with four goals in 16 minutes. There were two penalties – both harshly given in truth – for handballs and two other strikes. The first penalty came after a Var check with Foden’s spectacular scissor-kick having struck the outstretched arm a defender. The second penalty arrived when Kane’s point-blank header struck another defender’s arm. He sent the first kick down the centre and the second high into the corner.
The two other goals? The ball broke to him from Smith Rowe inside the area and he swung a boot with it beating Benedettini inside his left-hand post. His fourth arrived before half-time as he weaved his way past a couple of dispirited defenders. It was becoming cruel.
Remarkably Kane returned for the second-half although, just as remarkably, he did not score again before finally departing just after the hour. But there were four more goals with Tammy Abraham flicking the ball back into Smith Rowe’s path for him to side-footed home on his full debut.
To add further to San Marino’s woes Rossi was sent after bringing down substitute – and another debutant – Conor Gallagher. From the free-kick Tyrone Mings scored with a stooping header that looped into the net. It continued with two assists from Trent Alexander-Arnold who threaded the ball through to Abraham who finished with a low shot and then crossed for Saka to make it double figures with a close-range header. And with that England mercifully declared.
San Marino vs England, as it happened:
Let's get to Jason Burt's match report
Thanks for following this with us. Ten goals! Night.
England are going to the World Cup!
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"I just felt sorry for San Marino. They shouldn't be on the same pitch as England. What's the manager supposed to say to them before games? 'Yeah go on lads you can do it'. But they cannot. I am sure they are proud to play for their country but it must be heartbreaking for them to get badly beaten every game."
Keano in a different mode tonight, incidentally. I didn't get a chance to mention pre-game. A lot more conciliatory/less incendiary than some recent TV displays.
"Fantastic. We were expected to win but you see some other groups and it is tough to qualify. When we win people always write off the opposition but we are proud. Every time I wear the shirt I’m proud and when I score goals it is a great feeling.
"ESR has got all the qualities, he needs to keep his head down and keep working and I am sure he will have a fantastic future.
"We want to use every match, every training session to fine-tune, and then hopefully we can take this into the World Cup."
meanwhile have held Italy to 0-0 at Windsor Park, an eye-catching result in itself, and even more so because it condemns Italy to second place in Group C - and the play-offs! Woof, they would be one to avoid. Obviously Scotland will get them.
have had a good win over Denmark, 2-0 at Hampden.
Full time: San Marino 0 England 10 (TEN!!)
Well, England were always going to win, and that is obviously a mis-match, but ten goals is still pretty stunning stuff. England qualify for the World Cup.
90+ mins: San Marino 0 England 10
The officials do the decent thing and just add on one minute.
89 mins: San Marino 0 England 10
England look to have settled. Poor old San Marino looking like they are praying for the sweet release of the ref's final whistle.
Couple of their lads have gone down with cramp/misery
85 mins: San Marino 0 England 10
It has broken the ITV scoreboard thingy in the top left of the screen.
Meanwhile, the Scots have gone 2-0 against Denmark.
84 mins: San Marino 0 England 10
Ban this sick filth, or bring it on?
Fairly sure this San Marino team is the worst I've seen in international football.
They don't even do the basics of passing, holding the ball, blocking.
— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) November 15, 2021
can’t believe people are moaning about this. england are winning 10-0! ten! nil! “yeah but let’s have more games against slovakia”
— Jonathan Liew (@jonathanliew) November 15, 2021
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 10 (Saka 80)
Woof. Yet another. Trent AA the architect yet again, perfectly measured little cross for the unmarked Saka at the back stick. Easy-peasy.
Last time England scored ten? Sam Matterface is glad you asked: vs USA in 1964. British invasion indeed.
79 mins: San Marino 0 England 9
Just a question of how many England want now. SM are out on their feet.
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 9 (Abraham 78)
Gorgeous chipped ball into the area from Trent Alexander-Arnold, nicely taken down by Tammy Abraham, who cushions the ball and pivots. Tucks it away.
77 mins: San Marino 0 England 8
The Swiss have scored again - so Italy really need to get something at Windsor Park.
75 mins: San Marino 0 England 8
Lorenzo Lunadei, a car salesman by trade, comes off. San Marino a right old banger.
72 mins: San Marino 0 England 8
Smith Rowe comes off. Could hardly have gone better for him. Stones is coming on. To... shore things up?
72 mins: San Marino 0 England 8
Total dominance for England. Gallagher controls, spins, hits the post. The move stays alive, it falls to Jude Bellingham, who batters the ball home. VAR check...
Will VAR deny Jude B? Yes it will. There was a foul in the build up on a San Marino player.
Ref has rescinded the goal, and also booked Tammy Abraham. Tammy A had backheeled the ball and caught an opponent in the process to set the position up. A strange yellow card, to say the least.
70 mins: San Marino 0 England 8
San Marino's record defeat, 13-0 at the hands of the mean old Germans, must be in play.
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 8 (Mings 69)
Trent A-A with a Beckhamesque freekick delivery from the right. Tryone Minds leaps and directs it home with a strong header. Oh dear me.
68 mins: San Marino 0 England 7
Disaster for San Marino! Rossi has got his second yellow, for hauling down Gallagher. At least it was outside the box I guess.
But Rossi is sent off nevertheless.
67 mins: San Marino 0 England 7
Bit of a story developing that will be of interest to San Marino's neighbours. Italy are locked at 0-0 with Northern Ireland. Elsewhere, the Swiss have gone 2-0 up vs Bulgaria. As it stands, that puts Italy into the play offs.
64 mins: San Marino 0 England 7
Marcello Mularoni and Lorenzo Lunadei do a tag-team attack on Saka, taking turns to kick him.
62 mins: San Marino 0 England 7
Kane, looking well pleased with his evening's work, comes off. James on.
Young Gallagher is sent through with a chipped ball, hits it first time and should have done better.
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 7 (Smith Rowe)
Saka is playing on the right now, and enjoying it over there as well. Plays it into the feet of Abraham, who produces a cute little back flick to tee up Smith Rowe. The Arsenal youngster opens his England account with a composed finish and England march on.
55 mins: San Marino 0 England 6
A nice move sends T Abraham though but he has pus his shot over.
54 mins: San Marino 0 England 6
Those Kane records:
first player to score back-to-back hat-tricks since Tommy Taylor in 1957 .
now moves onto 48 goals level with the Queen Mum of Football.
first to score 13+ goals in a calendar year for England
first to score four in a game since Wrighty in 1993 vs the same oppo.
50 mins: San Marino 0 England 6
Chilwell gets down the left flank and decides whether to cross or dink it back for Emile Smith Rowe. He opts for the latter, and ESR tries a cute chip of the keeper that is just a fraction under-clubbed.
46 mins: San Marino 0 England 6
We are underway. Bagelled in the first half, San Marino are making a few changes. Can we switch to playing canasta? Skiing? Sadly not. It will continue to be football, just with different players.
Alessandro D'Addario, the hapless handballer, gets a rest. M'colleague Roy Hayes points out that D'Addario make guitar strings and reeds for woodwind instruments. I do not know if Alessandro is a scion of the D'Addario musical empire. Hope so. Football might not be the best long-term bet.
Also coming off are Fabio Ramon Tomassini and Adolfo Hirsch.
The men on are Luca Censoni, Matteo Vitaioli and Alessandro Golinucci. Go well, chaps.
a few subs
Conor Gallagher is coming on, as is Tammy Abraham and Ben Chilwell.
The men to make way are Maguire, Kalvin Phillips an Phil Foden.
Just looked up Gibraltar
They've got a population of almost exactly the same as San Marino. 33,000. They're ranked 198. M'coll Jake Goodwill suggest that there should be an international tournament for countries who have fewer than say 50K people. That's an excellent idea.
I'd fancy Gibraltar to beat these.
A tale of two Harrys, then
Maguire scored the first one.
and then Kane got four of the next five.
Half times: San Marino 0 England 6
The San Marino guys can go and have a bit of a rest. Perhaps they can fortify themselves with a bit of Torta Tre Monti, the national dish of San Marino. It would appear to be some sort of hazelnut pudding. It looks quite delicious.
45 mins: San Marino 0 England 6
Saka trying to get in on the goal action. Yet again opens SM up down the left, and decides he'll have a go himself on this occasion. Fires over.
And that'll do it for the first half.
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 6 (Kane 42)
Men against boys I am sorry to say as Kane dances through a crowd of defeated-looking defenders and tucks the ball away. That's four for him.
40 mins: San Marino 0 England 5
Alessandro D'Addario with a wild tackle on Kalvin Phillips. Ref doesn't send him off, he'd just booked him for that handball.
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 5 (Kane 38 pen)
Kane goes to the keeper's right, top shelf, right in the corner. Batters it. No saving that. Kane has a hat-trick.
38 mins: San Marino 0 England 4
England have another penalty. Kane with a header and a SM defender has got in all sorts of trouble, sort of jumping in the air with his body turned, and blocking with his hand. Alessandro D'Addario the guilty man I think, and he goes in the book.
They are clear on the rules, yes?
Kane with the penalty...
34 mins: San Marino 0 England 4
Here come the mighty Marinos. They've charged forward and Dante Carlos Rossi has hit a daisycutter of a shot that takes a bit of a deflection and wakes Aaron Ramsdale up! He has to dive and tip it around the post.
And the debut goalie is in action again a second later, punching away from a corner.
Scotland have taken the lead via John Souttar.
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 4 (Kane 32)
All Arsenal down that left flank! Now it is Smith Rowe's chance to get down the flank and cross, Harry Kane has connected and that is four.
27 mins: San Marino 0 England 3
Dante Rossi, the handballer, was born in Argentina. Not exactly a hand of God moment.
Poor old San Marino. Just looking up their population. According to Professor Wiki, it has a population of 33,562. About the size of Dunstable. I've been to Dunstable, and it's not all that.
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 3 (Kane 26 pen)
Harry Kane steps up and wallops it straight down the centre of the goal. Keeper dives. Ball goes in. Kane has 13 goals in 2021 for England, breaking a hundred-year-plus record for most strikes in a calendar year.
22 mins: San Marino 0 England 2
Phil Foden has just gone close with a magnificent overhead kick.
It goes a yard or two wide, and there is a VAR check because one of the San Marino defenders, Rossi for reasons only he can really know, has stuck his hand up.
The shot was going well wide, and matey boy just stuck his hand up like he was in a classroom asking to be excused. Sadly for him, there are still 68 minutes to go, and he'll have to play them on a yellow card and all.
20 mins: San Marino 0 England 2
Lad who just scored the OG poor kid, plays for Forlì F.C. in Italy's Serie D.
16 mins: San Marino 0 England 2
Fabio Ramon Tomassini becomes the first booking of the evening for prematurely attempting to swap shirts with Phil Foden, practically ripping the white strip off Phil's back to stop him getting away.
San Marino are the Tory MPs of football. They've all got second jobs.
— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) November 15, 2021
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 2 (Filippo Fabbri OG 15)
England's Saka is absolutely having the San Marino right side defender/midfield for breakfast. Cuts them open again here, cuts inside and fires a shot at goal. Massive deflection. Bukayo is claiming it but I am pretty sure that's going to be an OG.
Filippo Fabbri the unlucky man who stuck out a leg and sent his keeper totally the wrong way.
10 mins: San Marino 0 England 1
Saka down the left, he's been given the freedom of the city. Slips over as he crosses, but it is a good ball nevertheless. Smith Rowe connects but is denied by the leg of Rossi.
Saka a bit slow, and ginger, to get up. Looks quite slippery underfoot.
6 mins: San Marino 0 England 1
England have another corner, cleared more or less. Now Kane picks it up down the left, drives forward into the inside left channel, and fires a dangerous low ball into the area that just needed a centre forward to do the rest.
GOAL! San Marino 0 England 1 (Maguire 5)
England have the lead, it has been bongoed into the San Marino net off the massive melon head of Harry Maguire. It came from a corner, left hand side, Maguire just bullied his marker, Lorenzo Lunadei I think it was, and got well over him to head home.
Maguire with a more normal celebration this time. Just as well, with R Keane doing the punditry on ITV.
3 mins: San Marino 0 England 0
England have set up shop in the SM half.
The first moment of real danger comes as Saka drives down the left, gets in behind, and crosses. Nobody can get there to apply the finish.
1 mins: San Marino 0 England 0
England get through the first eight seconds without conceding, so the evening is already a success.
Lee Dixon, on ITV comms, was playing in that 1993 game.
The players take the knee
England go first. Plenty of trumpet for the San Marino anthem, Inno Nazionale della Repubblica. It's one of those rare anthems that doesn't have lyrics; or rather, at official occasions, the lyrics are not sung. That must be a setback for the writer, Giosuè Carducci
I agree, this IS a fascinating live blog.
The players are
ready to take the field. The lights are on, the fog has eased. And here come the players.
"We need to win the game. We have a good mix of youth and experience but we want to set the right tone.
"We played well with a back three and this platform allows us to play with a bit of freedom.
"ESR - very good technical player, shown great responsibility, beautiful touch especially in tight areas. Which could come in handy against what will probably be a packed defence."
"Harry Kane told me he wants to start but then he always says that before every game."
"It is big to be around this team but it really hurts to be out of it. Such a disappointment to miss out on the home tournament, probably the only one I will get. It has not quite clicked for me. I feel I play my best football when I play with freedom.
"Beckham is my role model. The way he kicked the ball, his body shape. What did I think when Gareth asked me play right midfield? I thought 'ok'."
England will qualify
for their seventh consecutive World Cup. "When you are growing up, a little kid, it is the FA Cup and the World Cup," says Ian Wright. "That is what you dream of."
Mark Pougatch kindly (?!) reminds his ITV colleague that Wrighty was part of the last England team not to qualify... That would of course be 1994. Wright played a full part in what he says is one of the great matches of his life, the draw in Rome that took them to 1998.
England need just a point from San Marino for 2022 to join 2018, 2014, 2010, 2006, 2002 and 1998 in their recent list of
disappointments heroic attempts at football's biggest prize.
Teams in full
San Marino: Elia Benedettini, Manuel Battistini, Fabbri, Rossi, Fabio Tomassini, Lunadei, Enrico Golinucci, Mularoni, D'Addario, Nanni, Jose Hirsch. Subs: David Tomassini, Zonzini, Michael Battistini, Simone Benedettini, Conti, Vitaioli, Ceccaroli, Grandoni, Marconi, Zafferani, Censoni, Alessandro Golinucci.
England: Ramsdale, Coady, Maguire, Mings, Alexander-Arnold, Bellingham, Phillips, Saka, Foden, Kane, Smith-Rowe. Subs: Stones, Abraham, Chilwell, James, Johnstone, Walker, Pickford, Gallagher.
Referee: Rade Obrenovic (Slovenia)
England on tour
Huge evening in the life
of Aaron Ramsdale. He's got an experienced back three in front of him: Mings, Maguire, Coady.
And also for his fellow debutant, Emile Smith Rowe, who is also making his first England start.
Would you rather make your England debut against eg Brazil, or get a quiet start against San Marino? I guess for Aaron the problem is that it will only be a notable opener if he lets in a shocker. Really, any goal would be a massive shock I guess.
Another fixture to keep an eye on
Italy are in Windsor Park to play Northern Ireland.
Here is the England team - Aaron Ramsdale is handed his debut
— England (@England) November 15, 2021
They've got at least one light on!
is doing a grand job. He says "the electrical situation is stable, and there is confidence that there shouldn't be any more problems."
This excerpt comes from Dan Zeqiri's excellent football newsletter today.
"It is understandable then, that Harry Kane is desperate to play for England against the butchers, bakers and candlestick makers of San Marino as he chases down Wayne Rooney's goalscoring record. Rooney scored five of his 53 England goals against San Marino as well as two against Andorra.
Kane, who is nine goals behind Rooney's record, has just two against the same opponents. The Tottenham striker was brought off the bench in England's 6-0 win in San Marino in 2015, likewise the 4-0 win against Andorra this September. In other meetings Kane was either injured or rested."
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Word from the ground is
that they should be able to get the lights on, and therefore the game on.
England play in San Marino
on Monday night - assuming they can get the lights on, that is. Sky Sports is reporting that there was a "loud bang" and some plumes of smoke, and then the lights went out in the stadium. Sky Sports say there has been some sort of powercut and that Uefa officials are talking of a "back up generator". There seems to be little concern as yet that they won't get it on but, to state the bleedin' obvious, it'll be dark in San Marino by kick-off time and they'll need someone to get the lights on.
San Marino traditionally have at least one electrician in their line-up along with a medical student, a postman, a couple of waiters or cooks etc etc so there are high levels of confidence that someone, perhaps not even one of the first eleven, can do the necessary.
Assuming that does all click into place, we will then have kick off at 1945. I'll bring you the team news an hour ahead of time. Obviously England will be fancying their chances against mighty San Marino, who are ranked 210 in the Fifa rankings, which is to say: bottom.
The fixture comes to you from Group I of the European qualifying section. England have 23 points and Poland have 20 from the nine games so far. This is the final fixture and England are definitely going to top the group. San Marino have played nine and lost nine, but have scored a goal. Huzzah. Be brilliant if they could get one tonight but, you have to say, a powercut might well be their best hope. Perhaps playing it in darkness could act as a leveller.
I'll also bring you news of how Scotland are getting along. They have mustered 20 points from their nine group F games so far, and are in second, meaning they will be into the play-offs. They host Denmark tonight, who have already qualified, topping the group with 20 points. (Third place is a tie between Israel and Austria as it stands, but they are both on 13 so that's all settled as well in that group).
Gareth Southgate, bless him, has gamely said: "We have not qualified yet. We have got thousands of England fans travelling and we must put on a performance that underlines those facts. We're taking this very seriously."