Rooney double helps England down San Marino

12 October 2012 10:17

Wayne Rooney capped a week to remember as the England skipper's double inspired his side to a 5-0 win over San Marino in Friday's World Cup qualifier at Wembley.

With regular captain Steven Gerrard suspended, Rooney led England in a competitive international for the first time in the same week he learned wife Coleen was pregnant with the couple's second child and the Manchester United forward celebrated in style.

With Roy Hodgson's side labouring to break down one of Europe's weakest teams, Rooney came to the rescue as he lashed in a first half penalty and then netted the decisive third after Danny Welbeck's strike.

The 26-year-old's 30th and 31st England goals moved him into fifth in his country's all-time scoring charts ahead of Alan Shearer, Tom Finney and Nat Lofthouse.

Welbeck also finished with a brace as he added England's fourth before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sealed the victory with his first international goal.

"It's not a bad result when you remember that it's difficult when they have 10, 11 players behind the ball," said Rooney.

"I'm extremely proud to be in the top five of England's top scorers."

This was far from a vintage performance from England, but the size of the win was emphatic enough to keep the critics at bay, although Tuesday's trip to Poland will be a far sterner test.

San Marino, ranked joint 207th in the world rankings alongside Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands, have only one full-time professional in their side and had won one game in their history.

With that woeful pedigree in mind, it was hardly surprising Hodgson opted to send out an attacking line-up that featured Rooney and Welbeck up front, with Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott pushing forward on the flanks.

Ashley Cole, charged by the FA for his offensive Twitter outburst last week, was absent as Hodgson rested the Chelsea defender, who has been struggling with an ankle injury.

England had conceded a goal in 8.3 seconds when they last faced San Marino in 1993. There was never any chance of a repeat but the hosts took a while to break down opponents intent only on keeping the score down.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was quick to test Aldo Simoncini with a stinging long-range drive that the San Marino goalkeeper pushed over.

Simoncini was involved again moments later when he raced off his line and clattered into Walcott, leaving the pole-axed Arsenal winger with a chest injury that was serious enough for him to be taken to hospital for tests.

Rooney should have opened the scoring with a diving header from Tom Cleverley's cross but, at that stage, there was a lack of speed and imagination about England's passing.

Their luck was out when Michael Carrick's fierce drive cannoned off the crossbar and Welbeck could only hit a post from the rebound.

But Hodgson's team finally made the breakthrough in the 35th minute when Welbeck was needlessly brought down by Simoncini and Rooney smashed in the penalty to claim his first goal of the season for club or country.

There was slightly more energy about England now and Welbeck notched the second goal three minutes later.

Substitute Aaron Lennon crossed into the six-yard box and Welbeck twisted his body to direct a superb back-flick past Simoncini, reviving memories of his equally inspired strike against Sweden in Euro 2012.

Simoncini kept out Rooney's curling effort just before half-time and denied Carrick early in the second half.

Frustration was beginning to set in among the 84,000 crowd when Gary Cahill miscued a close-range volley.

But Rooney scored his second of the night with a fine curling effort from the edge of the area in the 70th minute and two minutes later Welbeck poked home from Cleverley's low cross.

San Marino were tiring now and Arsenal winger Oxlade-Chamberlain made it five with an impressive finish in the 77th minute.

Source: AFP