Wayne Rooney equalled Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record as England booked their place at Euro 2016 with a 6-0 win in San Marino.
The England and Manchester United captain has been closing in on Charlton’s marker during the current qualifying campaign and, on the occasion of his 106th cap – matching Charlton’s appearance haul – he pulled level with his 49th goal in international football.
Rooney scored from the spot in the 13th minute after the visitors were awarded a soft penalty, but was unable to take top spot in the all-time goalscoring list for his own before being substituted just short of the hour mark.
The captain set the ball rolling for England, and Cristian Brolli doubled the advantage with an own goal.
Ross Barkley’s first England goal made it 3-0 shortly after the interval, before substitutes Fabian Delph and Theo Walcott combined for the fourth.
Harry Kane – on in place of Rooney – chipped the visitors into a 5-0 lead, and Walcott rounded off the scoring with his second of the match as England convincingly sealed their place in next year’s tournament in France.
With John Stones, Jonjo Shelvey and Jamie Vardy included from the start, Roy Hodgson was looking to learn more about the depth of talent at his disposal, but it was the most familiar of England faces who broke the deadlock for the visitors.
After a whipped James Milner free-kick into the box appeared to hit Stones on the hand, the referee confusingly chose to penalise San Marino – booking Marco Berardi – and Rooney stepped up to slot the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
Rooney then drew a save from goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini from a tight angle six minutes later, with Milner unable to find the target from the rebound, but England continued to dominate on a challenging playing surface and soon doubled their advantage.
Luke Shaw sent in a dangerous cross from the left and, desperate to get a head to it, Brolli inadvertently diverted the ball beyond his own goalkeeper.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played a key role as England moved 3-0 in front less than a minute into the second half, hanging in a cross from the right for Barkley to head home.
Walcott made it 4-0 moments after being introduced in place of Arsenal team-mate Oxlade-Chamberlain in the 67th minute by tapping in at the far post from a Delph cross.
Kane then confidently lifted the ball over Simoncini after being played in by a wonderful Shelvey pass in the 77th minute, before Walcott doubled his tally by shooting across the San Marino goalkeeper a minute later.
San Marino managed their first shot on target through Danilo Rinaldi in the closing stages, but the result was never in doubt and Hodgson can now turn his attentions to planning for next year’s tournament.
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