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England 5, San Marino 0: Easy Victory Keeps England Tops

England did what was expected, securing a fairly straightforward victory over minnows San Marino that keeps them top of Group E.

Laurence Griffiths
England 5 Jagielka 24', Rooney 43' (pen), Welbeck 49', Townsend 72', Della Valle 77' (OG)
San Marino 0

England got off to a strong start to Euro qualification in September, handling the Swiss on the road with surprising ease and installing themselves as early Group E favourites. Then, Roy Hodgson took a chance on playing a diamond with Jack Wilshere at its base and Raheem Sterling at the tip, and against minnows San Marino it was no surprise to see the same tactical approach as England look to embrace a more fluid and attacking approach.

It didn't lead to the hoped for attacking fireworks, at least in the early going, with San Marino camped in their own end and looking to minimise the damage. More midfield passing drill for England than football match made for less than enthralling viewing as fans waited for England's seemingly inevitable opener. It finally came in the 24th minute, as Phil Jagielka knocked in a free header in off a corner after San Marino's goalkeeper fell into a teammate and took himself out of the play.

San Marino remained stubborn while England continued to dominate possession, but if there was any question left over the outcome—and realistically there probably wasn't—a San Marino penalty late in the half that Wayne Rooney converted served to answer it. It took England into the half comfortably ahead, and allowed Hodgson to take off a tired looking Raheem Sterling to start the second, replacing him with club teammate Adam Lallana.

England being comfortably up also allowed Hodgson to remove Henderson with an eye towards Tuesday's match against Estonia—and perhaps also his strained relationship with Liverpool after Daniel Sturridge suffered an unnecessary injury in September. Either way, their absence wasn't missed as England cruised to victory against an increasingly tired opponent, with goals for Danny Welbeck, Andros Townsend, and an Alessandro Della Valle own goal rounding out the night.

Meanwhile in the other match with Liverpool involvement, Martin Skrtel went the full 90—and had a handful of key late clearances—as Slovakia upset Spain 2-1 to go three points clear at the top of Group C.

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