herald

Monday 11 December 2017

England cruise past san marino

Rooney closes in on Charlton's goalscoring record

Wayne Rooney edged one goal closer to Bobby Charlton's record as England coasted past the clothes salesman, the factory worker and the bar owner from San Marino with a simple if not spectacular 5-0 win at Wembley.

The 55,990 fans in attendance started to get anxious when England failed to open the scoring in the first 20 minutes, but Roy Hodgson's team finally broke the deadlock through Phil Jagielka's third international goal.

England were sloppy and slow in attack at times in the first half, but Rooney managed to find the net just before the break with a well-taken penalty.

The strike moved the England captain on to 42 international goals - seven short of Charlton.

One can only imagine how many goals Rooney's idol would have bagged in his pomp against this shoddy San Marino team, who fielded just one professional in their starting XI.

The small European principality put 10 men behind the ball when they were not in possession and they only managed one shot on target.

Danny Welbeck and Andros Townsend found the net in the second half and Alessandro Della Valle also scored an own goal to round off the win.

A 5-0 victory over the lowest-ranked team international team in the world does not prove anything, but Hodgson will still be happy to make it two wins from two in the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

Meanwhile, holders Spain crashed to a shock defeat after substitute Miroslav Stoch nodded a late goal to earn Slovakia a 2-1 victory in Group C.

A powerful, swerving free kick from Juraj Kucka in the 17th minute that deceived goalkeeper Iker Casillas put the hosts ahead and Spain struggled to find a way past inspired home goalkeeper Matus Kozacik despite dominating possession.

Substitute Paco Alcacer levelled eight minutes from time but any hopes the visitors had of snatching a winner were shattered when Stoch headed past Casillas in the 87th.

Ola Toivonen's second-half goal crowned a gutsy fight back to give Sweden a 1-1 draw with Russia in their Group G in Stockholm.

Russia took the lead in the 10th minute when Alexsandr Kokorin surged through the middle before cutting back onto his right foot and rolling the ball tantalisingly through the legs of a defender and past the despairing dive of Andreas Isaksson.

Sweden wasted the perfect opportunity to equalise three minutes later when Jimmy Durmaz was upended in the box by Igor Smolnikov, but keeper Igor Akinfeev threw himself to his right to push away Sebastian Larsson's well-struck penalty.

In for the injured Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Toivonen pulled Sweden level in the 49th minute, turning home Durmaz's low cross before being replaced by Johan Elmander eight minutes later after injuring a hamstring.

Milivoje Novakovic's penalty gave Slovenia a smash-and-grab 1-0 home win over Switzerland after the visitors were frustrated by superb goalkeeping from Samir Handanovic.

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