By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Ollie Watkins scored on his international debut as England cantered to victory against San Marino, but Gareth Southgate’s men should have made more of their dominance against the world’s worst side in this World Cup qualifier.
While a shot at European glory on home soil is just months away, the main focus right now is the road to Qatar and the 2018 semi-finalists took a simple first step towards next year’s tournament on Thursday.
It was always going to be a case of how many England would score against San Marino rather than the outcome at empty Wembley, where Southgate did not get the ruthless edge he called for despite running out 5-0 winners.
— England (@England) March 25, 2021
Southampton skipper James Ward-Prowse opened the scoring – and his international account – against the side ranked 210th and last in the world before Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin headed home.
Raheem Sterling, captaining the side in the absence of the rested Harry Kane, added a deflected third, which would be all England managed in the first half despite getting away 22 shots.
Poor finishing and fine saves from inspired San Marino goalkeeper Elia Benedettini kept the scoreline down, just as it did in the second half.
Rejuvenated Jesse Lingard marked his international return with an assist for Calvert-Lewin, whose replacement Watkins coolly opened his international account as the clock wound down.