England 5-0 San Marino – 2022 World Cup qualifier: Watkins debut goal

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A debut goal for Ollie Watkins, a first for James Ward-Prowse and a return to prominence for Jesse Lingard. Let’s not forget that tonight on regrettable old empty Wembley will always mean something to someone. An English cap will always be an English cap, a goal will always be a goal.

Apart from that, there was nothing to learn here. That is impossible against San Marino. They are and in all probability always will be the worst team in international football. Their population of 38,000 is roughly the same as Lichfield. Why would anyone expect anything else?

On Thursday night they had been as limited and as always been, and Gareth Southgate’s England team trampled them properly.

If you want, give England their energy and hunger. They did not stop. But that is the least we can expect from our national team.

Ollie Watkins completed the breakdown of San Marino by England with a little effort in the lower corner

Ollie Watkins completed the breakdown of San Marino by England with a little effort in the lower corner

The Aston Villa man came on as a late substitute, scoring a goal in his first appearance in England

The Aston Villa man came on as a late substitute, scoring a goal in his first appearance in England

The Aston Villa man came on as a late substitute, scoring a goal in his first appearance in England

Ecstatic teammates crowded around the attacker after finding the back of the net late on the net to round out the win

Ecstatic teammates crowded around the attacker after finding the back of the net late on the net to round out the win

Ecstatic teammates crowded around the attacker after finding the back of the net late on the net to round out the win

If you will, criticize them for not scoring more goals. Some of their workmanship was not very good.

But it’s hard to be on your toes when you know that one chance – taken or not – will be followed by another almost immediately. Why run to the afternoon train when there’s another one at a quarter past?

England eventually scored five on a night where they could have scored so many in the first ten minutes. Three in the first half by Ward-Prowse, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and captain Raheem Sterling and only the two in the second by Calvert-Lewin and, late, substitute Watkins.

That was the striking moment of the evening and was greeted with a big smile by the Aston Villa forward. He’s worked hard to get to this level – he was at Brentford last year – and deserved his moment.

More broadly, England’s most notable players were Lingard – who earned a goal but didn’t get one – Chelsea’s Mason Mount, and their two starting fullbacks who spent the night in acres of space, crossing well.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was in the penalty area to grab Jesse Lingard's cross to score his second goal of the match

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was in the penalty area to grab Jesse Lingard's cross to score his second goal of the match

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was in the penalty area to grab Jesse Lingard’s cross to score his second goal of the match

The Everton man quickly led the ball into the bottom corner, leaving the goalkeeper no chance to save him

The Everton man quickly led the ball into the bottom corner, leaving the goalkeeper no chance to save him

The Everton man quickly led the ball into the bottom corner, leaving the goalkeeper no chance to save him

Earlier, James Ward-Prowse went close with a sublime free kick that pushed the goalkeeper onto the post.

Earlier, James Ward-Prowse went close with a sublime free kick that pushed the goalkeeper onto the post.

Earlier, James Ward-Prowse went close with a sublime free kick that pushed the goalkeeper onto the post.

After many tries, Raheem Sterling finally got his goal after a raid from the left and a field goal

After many tries, Raheem Sterling finally got his goal after a raid from the left and a field goal

After many tries, Raheem Sterling finally got his goal after a raid from the left and a field goal

The Man City forward was captain for the evening and was immediately congratulated by his teammates

The Man City forward was captain for the evening and was immediately congratulated by his teammates

The Man City forward was captain for the evening and was immediately congratulated by his teammates

Calvert-Lewin had opened his account with a close-range header that was directed to the floor of the goal

Calvert-Lewin had opened his account with a close-range header that was directed to the floor of the goal

Calvert-Lewin had opened his account with a close-range header that was directed to the floor of the goal

The in-form attacker feasted away after adding another England goal to his count

The in-form attacker feasted away after adding another England goal to his count

The in-form attacker feasted away after adding another England goal to his count

For San Marino, goalkeeper Elia Benedettini played at a level beyond his teammates and helped keep the score low. He made four or five very good saves. His team needed the 25-year-old, and based on this evidence, it always will.

They played five over from the first moment and the plan was clear. Sit deep, work hard and then hope. They did that not so long ago against Belgium and got nine against it.

Here England found it easy to pass the ball through them, especially within the fullbacks on either side. Southgate’s defenders Reece James and Ben Chilwell had a field day on their heels with passes from Mount and Lingard. The only surprise was that the first goal only came after we had played for almost fifteen minutes.

The opportunities for this ran smoothly, but were not exploited. Calvert-Lewin applied an early air shot to a James cross, Sterling headed wide twice, then John Stones ran to a clipped Mount pass and scooped a shot over from the six-yard line.

That was a special horror, but England led the way shortly afterwards. Calvert-Lewin, Mount and Chilwell built up nicely on the left and when the low cross arrived Ward-Prowse swept his first England goal over Benedettini and into the far corner. An imaginary golf club was involved in its celebration. You will have to ask him why.

The San Marino goalkeeper had little to lose and enjoyed himself. Rescues from Lingard and Chilwell at a distance and then a low from Lingard at close range were all excellent.

However, standards were lower all around him. San Marino couldn’t get out of their half or even keep the ball. The only corner they won was overheated and wasted.

Southampton star Ward-Prowse had opened the scoring on the evening with a well-placed effort in the area

Southampton star Ward-Prowse had opened the scoring on the evening with a well-placed effort in the area

Southampton star Ward-Prowse had opened the scoring on the evening with a well-placed effort in the area

The midfielder roared from the party after breaking the deadlock at Wembley stadium

The midfielder roared from the party after breaking the deadlock at Wembley stadium

The midfielder roared from the party after breaking the deadlock at Wembley stadium

Goals two and three came in the 21st and 31st minutes. Calvert-Lewin’s header from a James cross was impressive and when Cristian Brolli presented the ball directly to Mount, the captain was able to cut in with a quick pass to Sterling and score from the corner of the box.

Southgate made four changes at half time, which was understandable. He had club managers to think about. It enabled 17-year-old Bellingham to win his second cap, while it didn’t take long for Watkins to play.

By then England had scored a fourth goal. Chilwell’s pass released Lingard and his low cross was diverted from the six-yard box by Calvert-Lewin. It was amazing how, with so many San Marino bodies back in the penalty area, the goalscorer went unmarked. But he was.

After that there was only one goal and it was a special one, watkins turned neatly on the edge of the penalty area to score low through a defender’s legs to the goalkeeper’s right with ten minutes to go.

Strangely enough, the five goals alone will expose England to criticism from those who wish. But that is not necessary. Ward-Prowse hit a post with a free kick and Bellingham hit it down and over.

There could have been more goals. There probably should have been. There were none. It does not matter.

Scroll down to relive how all the action happened with Sportsmail’s Danny Gallagher from Wembley.