Harry Kane scored four goals and moved up to third in England’s all-time scoring charts as the Three Lions booked their ticket to the 2022 World Cup with a 10-0 demolition of San Marino.
England were as professional as they were relentless as they put FIFA’s 210th and lowest-ranked nation ruthlessly to the sword to send the records tumbling in the microstate.
Fresh from scoring a first-half hat-trick against Albania, Kane repeated the feat inside 39 minutes at Olimpico di Serravalle and became the first England player since Ian Wright in 1993 to score four goals in a single game as he took his international goals tally to 48 – level with Gary Lineker in the all-time scoring charts.
Harry Maguire headed the opening goal for the second successive game before England ran riot in the second half. Emile Smith Rowe and Tyrone Mings opened their international accounts and Bukayo Saka and Tammy Abraham joined them on the congested scoresheet as the Three Lions hit double figures in a competitive match for the first time.
Victory completes an assured World Cup Qualification campaign for England, who finish top of Group I, six points clear of second-place Poland, and can set their sights on Qatar 2022 – their seventh-successive World Cup finals appearance, where Gareth Southgate will hope to build on an encouraging 2021 by securing the biggest prize of all.
38 – This is the most goals @England have ever scored in a World Cup/European Championship qualifying campaign, while it’s the first time they’ve scored nine in a game since December 1983 vs Luxembourg. Rout.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 15, 2021
San Marino: Benedettini (3), Manuel Battistini (3), Fabbri (3), Rossi (2), Fabio Tomassini (3), Lunadei (6), Enrico Golinucci (3), Mularoni (3), D’Addario (3), Nanni (4), Hirsch (3).
Subs: Conti (3), Vitaioli (3), Grandoni (3), Censoni (3), Golinucci (3).
England: Ramsdale (n/a), Coady (6), Maguire (7), Mings (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Bellingham (7), Phillips (6), Saka (8), Foden (6), Kane (9), Smith-Rowe (8).
Subs: Abraham (7), Chilwell (6), James (6), Gallagher (6), Stones (n/a).
Man of the match: Harry Kane
How England sealed another World Cup adventure
It took England just six minutes to stamp their authority on the contest as Maguire got on the end of Phil Foden’s corner to open the scoring for the second successive game with a towering header into the San Marino net.
Maguire refrained from repeating his hands-to-ear celebration from Friday’s win over Albania, but England were soon celebrating again when Bukayo Saka’s shot took a heavy deflection on its way in off San Marino defender Filippo Fabbri.
- Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale made his England debut and Emile Smith Rowe made his first start as Gareth Southgate made seven changes following the 5-0 win over Albania. Harry Kane, Harry Maguire, Kalvin Phillips and Phil Foden retained their places.
Saka was involved again as England added their third in somewhat bizarre circumstances. The Arsenal forward’s cross was met by an acrobatic Phil Foden volley which was going well wide but was adjudged to have touched the fingertips of Dante Rossi, who had his arm in an unnaturally high position.
The referee, rather harshly, pointed to the spot and up stepped Kane, who stroked his first of the night down the centre of the goal from 12 yards.
Kane doubled his tally for the night four minutes later, drilling debutant Emile Smith Rowe’s cross into the net after it had evaded everyone in the area, and his fifth England hat-trick soon followed.
After Alessandro D’Addario had blocked Kane’s goal-bound header with his arm, the Spurs striker slammed his second penalty of the match emphatically into the top corner of the San Marino net.
Kane’s unashamed plunder continued with his fourth before the break as he weaved around more woeful San Marino defending into the area and produced a composed finish into the bottom corner.
Leading 6-0 at the break, Southgate handed Conor Gallagher his England debut and introduced Abraham and Ben Chilwell, but the Three Lions remained in complete control as their hunt for more goals continued where it had left off.
Abraham missed a gilt-edged chance to add a seventh from Kane’s through pass as he lifted a shot over the target before Smith Rowe got in on the act, capping his first Three Lions start with a clinical near-post finish after Abraham’s intelligent lay-off.
Gallagher squandered a glorious chance to score on his first England appearance, turning a tame effort from Chilwell’s cross into the hands of Elia Benedettini before San Marino’s task increased in difficulty when defender Rossi was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Mings headed in England’s eighth from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner on 69 minutes and the Liverpool defender notched a hat-trick of assists as England completed their record-breaking victory.
After Jude Bellingham had a goal harshly ruled out after Abraham was adjudged to have committed a foul while back-heeling the ball, the Roma striker made amends with an excellently-taken control and finish into the far corner before Alexander-Arnold picked out Saka for their 10th.
What the manager said…
England manager Gareth Southgate: “The qualification was earned away in Budapest, Warsaw and Albania. I have to credit all our players and staff for a very good year. We cannot do anything about the level of opposition but the mentality and the way they applied themselves was terrific.
“If we left him [Harry Kane] on another half an hour, we would have had Wayne Rooney’s family on the phone. He is a phenomenal goalscorer, we wanted to give him the chance tonight and he took it well.”
“I thought Emile [Smith Rowe] has given a good account all week, his tight control is exceptional, and he has to continue what he is doing. We finished with a young side tonight.
“I haven’t really thought that far ahead [to Qatar 2022], we have had 19 matches this season and there is so much to take in. This is a good opportunity to look at the last few months and what experience the younger players need before the World Cup.”
England’s record night in San Marino – Opta stats
- England have qualified for their seventh consecutive World Cup, their longest ever run of reaching successive World Cup tournaments.
- England’s 39 goals is their most ever scored in a World Cup/European Championship qualifying campaign, while this is the first time they’ve netted 10 in a single match since May 1964 (10-0 vs USA).
- This was England’s biggest ever win in a competitive away match in their history.
- The last three occasions of a player scoring four goals in a game for England have been against San Marino – David Platt in February 1993, Ian Wright in November 1993 and Harry Kane tonight.
- Harry Kane has scored more goals than any other European player in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup (12), while he’s now scored 16 goals for England in 2021, the most of any Three Lions player in a single calendar year.
- With Emile Smith Rowe and Tyrone Mings scoring, England have now had 19 different goalscorers in 2021, their most ever in a single calendar year (excluding own goals).
- With Conor Gallagher and Emile Smith Rowe making their debuts, Gareth Southgate has now given 50 different players their debut for the Three Lions, the most by a manager since Bobby Robson (64).