Wayne Rooney last night spoke of his pride at surpassing Alan Shearer, Tom Finney and Nat Lofthouse and moving fifth on England’s all-time goalscorers’ list after bagging a double in last night 5-0 Group H win over San Marino at Wembley.
Stand-in skipper Rooney took his tally for his county to 31 with his two goals, one from the penalty spot. Danny Welbeck also netted twice before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain completed England’s nap hand with his first senior international goal.
Rooney said: “There are some great players there and to be in the England top five is something to be proud of. I am only 26 so hopefully I will score a lot more. We created some good chances and maybe there was a bit of poor finishing but it’s not that easy when they put 10 or 11 men behind the ball.
“It’s difficult to break them down and we had to create chances and we managed to do that, so we’ll take the positives and it wasn’t a bad result.”
Patience was also the key for Rooney’s Manchester United team-mate Danny Welbeck, who struck his first goal of the season. Welbeck said: “I want to score a goal in every game and this was my first of the season, but I’ve been playing in different positions and it’s all good experience for me, so I’m definitely happy.”
The game was, as expected, a mismatch and England duly collected three more World Cup qualifying points to sit top of the group with seven points from their opening three games.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart could have flicked through the match programme for all the work he had to do. Not a save to make. Not a cross to take.
Whoever said there are no easy matches at international level really cannot have watched San Marino. Yet England are not adept at tackling teams with no interest in forward advancement. At times the passing was slow and imprecise. Too often they were too predictable and that goes for Rooney and another Manchester United team-mate Tom Cleverley as much as anyone in the pivotal roles behind Welbeck.
However, once Rooney broke the deadlock with a 35th-minute spot kick it was just a question of how many, and his second goal of the night after 69 minutes came between Wellbeck’s twin strikes. Oxlade-Chamberlain rounded things off 13 minutes from time.
The suspicion is that England actually might prefer the challenge of Poland in Warsaw on Tuesday. They are guaranteed more of a contest, that is certain, but are also more likely to be able to employ the counter-attacking strategy which is more to their liking.
Still, after suffering two lost points in a 2-2 draw at home to Ukraine last month, the three points were paramount. They also needed to rack up their goal difference in a qualifying group which promises to be tighter than many anticipated.