England eased to a 5-0 home victory over the minnows from San Marino on Thursday night, an effort which manager Roy Hodgson called a “job well done’’.
The win leaves England atop Group E on goal difference over Lithuania with the maximum six points.
Results last night went in England’s favour as Switzerland, seen as the closest challenger in the group, remained pointless after a 1-0 loss in Slovenia.
Estonia have three points from two matches and England captain Wayne Rooney expects a sterner test in Tallinn than he faced from San Marino. [eap_ad_2]
“Sunday is an important game for us now,’’ Rooney, who scored England’s second goal, said. “We’ve seen the results in our group tonight and are looking forward to it.
“It will be a tough game and we understand that. But we are confident at the minute and we believe we can go there and win.’’
England are seeking their third consecutive victory over Estonia, following a pair of 3-0 successes in qualifying for Euro 2008.
England dominated against a San Marino squad joint last with Bhutan in the FIFA world rankings at number 208, but were unable to break through until Phil Jagielka’s header in the 24th minute.
Rooney then doubled the lead from the penalty spot after being fouled just before half-time.
Danny Welbeck made it 3-0 four minutes after the restart with Andros Townsend and an own goal from Alessandro Della Valle completing the scoring.
Rooney’s goal was his 42nd for the national team, moving him within seven of Bobby Charlton’s England record.
He could have added to his tally in the second half but failed to chip goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini after being sent through, while his 78th minute shot from an angle was ruled an own goal after deflecting in off Della Valle.
The Manchester United striker’s effort drew praise from Hodgson, who called it a “captain’s performance’’.
“He got in a lot of times tonight,’’ the manager said. “His runs were very good. I’m more than happy with him.’’
Hodgson said entering these two qualifiers that he expected to face well-organized teams willing to sit back and defend.
San Marino put 10 men behind the ball before eventually being worn down in the second half, and Estonia are likely to use similar tactics.
“We kept plugging away in the first half when it was difficult to break them down,’’ Hodgson said.
“Our tempo was up in the second half because it was hard for them to keep going. It’s an important job done and we can now concentrate our efforts on the second game in Estonia.’’ (dpa/NAN) [eap_ad_3]