England set out on the road to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as they begin their qualification campaign against San Marino at Wembley tonight.
Gareth Southgate’s side are firm favourites to qualify from Group I and could hardly have wished for a kinder start as they host the minnows, who have never won a competitive match.
However, the current international break doubles as the last chance for Southgate to work with his players before he has to name his squad for this summer’s delayed European Championships.
The likes of John Stones, Jesse Lingard and Luke Shaw are back in the fold after significant spells in the wilderness and will be keen to impress, while Ollie Watkins and Sam Johnstone were both called up for the first time and are hoping to make their debuts.
With tougher fixtures to come, against Albania and Poland, Southgate may use tonight’s game to give opportunities to those most desperate to impress.
You can follow all the action LIVE with Standard Sport’s blog below…
89 mins: Into the last few minutes of regulation time, and I can’t imagine the referee will be adding much. Time for one more?
GOAL! | England 5-0 San Marino | Ollie Watkins 83′
What a moment! Ollie Watkins controld, turns, and finds the bottom corner for a dream goal on debut.
78 mins: It just will not go in for Lingard. The ‘keeper parries another effort away – his fifth save from Lingard tonight – and the rebound is just beyond Watkins, too.
It was only ever going to be James Ward-Prowse to take it and the ‘keeper gets across to tip onto the post.
70 mins: Wonderful feet from Jude Bellingham, who has been impressive. He drives through a couple of challenges and wins a free-kick in a decent position, too.
James Robson is at Wembley
It is hard to assess Lingard tonight. He has undoubtedly been one of England’s biggest threats. He’s hurt San Marino right across the forward positions.
But isn’t that what we would expect of a player of his standard against this opposition? The problem is his finishing just has not been good enough. He could easily have a hat-trick and should have.
64 mins: Jesse Lingard is so desperate to score it’s almost funny. Lovely stuff from Bellingham to find him but he can only sidefoot at the ‘keeper.
63 mins: Dare I say it, but San Marino are actually growing in confidence a bit. They can’t cross halfway, but they’ve strung a few passes together.
In the meantime, here is Watkins, replacing Calvert-Lewin.
59 mins: Looks like we’re going to see a debut for Ollie Watkins shortly.
James Robson is at Wembley
Chilwell again very involved in that goal – playing in Lingard on the left.
It’s been a very good night for him.
For Lingard, meanwhile, you feel he needed that. He has been a constant threat tonight, but his finishing has let him down. That assist will for Calvert-Lewin will do him the world of good.