Football: Ruthless England smash eight past San Marino

SERRAVALLE, San Marino (AFP) - England strolled to an embarrassingly one-sided 8-0 win at minnows San Marino on Friday in an ideal warm-up for Tuesday's key World Cup qualifier away to Montenegro.

After an own goal by Alessandro Della Valle gave them the lead, England rammed home their advantage and scored through Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jermain Defoe, Ashley Young and Frank Lampard to take a 5-0 lead into half-time.

Wayne Rooney and Daniel Sturridge deepened the hosts' woe early in the second half, before Defoe claimed his second goal to complete England's biggest win since an 8-0 thrashing of Turkey in 1987.

England manager Roy Hodgson could hardly have asked for a more straightforward evening, but a far sterner test awaits in Podgorica on Tuesday, when defeat would leave his side five points adrift in Group H.

"It could not have gone much better, it was a very professional performance, we are obviously a class above San Marino," said Hodgson.

"It was good that so many players got a chance to play. Everyone brought their straw to the water. Even at 5-0 at half-time, we kept playing."

England's last away game against San Marino saw them concede a goal after just 8.3 seconds, but there was no danger of a repeat as the visitors applied a vice-like grip to the game from kick-off in Serravalle.

Lampard, captain in place of the rested Steven Gerrard, was thwarted by San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini and Oxlade-Chamberlain sent a lob against the crossbar before England broke the deadlock in the 12th minute.

Lampard found Leighton Baines on the left with a raking pass over the top and from the Everton left-back's low cross, the blundering Della Valle sent the ball into his own net.

Such was England's dominance that by the mid-point of the first half, the away fans were already ironically cheering every touch from visiting goalkeeper Joe Hart.

The second goal arrived in the 28th minute and it was a strike of quality, Oxlade-Chamberlain showcasing some sinuous touches on the right and exchanging passes with Rooney before driving home left-footed.

Defoe had a goal disallowed for offside but a minute later he made it 3-0, touching the ball in from close range after Oxlade-Chamberlain headed Rooney's cross back across goal.

Lampard stung Simoncini's palms from distance before Young added a fourth with a fine shot that flashed past the bewildered San Marino goalkeeper from 25 yards.

Three minutes short of half-time it was five, as Lampard applied the finishing touch to another Baines cut-back with a side-foot shot that found the bottom-right corner.

Rooney had failed to trouble Simoncini in the first period, but he seemed determined to make amends after the interval.

He had already seen Simoncini tip a dipping shot over the crossbar by the time England won a free-kick in a promising central position in the 54th minute.

Rooney took it, and scored, bending a shot over the wall and into the bottom-left corner before being replaced by Sturridge.

Sturridge headed against the post from Oxlade-Chamberlain's dinked cross on the hour, but the Liverpool striker would not have long to wait for his first international goal.

Defoe flashed a shot wide following an incursion down the right and Oxlade-Chamberlain hit a feathered effort narrowly over before Sturridge struck in the 70th minute, nodding in Young's cross from close range.

Defoe tapped in Oxlade-Chamberlain's cut-back from the right to claim his second goal and make it 8-0 in the 77th minute.

The Tottenham Hotspur striker could have completed his hat-trick late on, but he put the ball wide with his left foot to grant the hosts one, belated reprieve.

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